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Thursday, 29 November, 2001, 23:02 GMT
Italy insurance scam's chainsaw horror
Crime scene
Police scour the crime scene near Merano

It looked like a violent attack on an innocent man.

When Andreas Plack, a 23-year-old ex-bouncer from the northern Italian town of Merano, was found lying in a pool of blood near a country lay-by, police initially thought him the victim of a sadistic attack.

His left leg was almost severed, seemingly by a chainsaw. Copious bleeding had virtually drained the body of blood.

Emergency call

Plack had tried to call the emergency services on his mobile phone in the wake of the attack, but was so weakened by rapid blood loss that operators heard only a death rattle.

Andreas Plack
Andreas Plack bled to death

However, the incredible truth of the case was soon to emerge.

Plack's 29-year-old cousin, Christian Kleon, has confessed to police that he was the assailant, and that the younger man died in an attempted insurance fraud that went badly wrong.

Numerous policies

The pair allegedly hatched a plan which was meant to net them over half-a-million dollars in insurance payouts.

Plack is said to have taken out policies with several companies, under which he would receive substantial sums in case of injury leading to permanent disability.

Crime scene near Merano
The attack took place near a country lay-by

On the evening in question, according to Kleon, the two went to an isolated spot near the Bolzano-Merano highway.

Kleon sawed at his cousin's leg below the knee - with an electric saw that Plack himself had purchased - causing severe injury.

The two had been confident that they could stem the bloodflow from the wound, that Plack would be able to call the emergency services in time, and would then be able to convince police that he had been the victim of a violent mugging.

Cheated by death

But an over-enthusiastic Kleon, who quickly made his exit from the scene and disposed of the chainsaw in the nearby River Adige, had severed a major artery in Plack's leg.

Plack was left bleeding profusely and was too weak to properly make the vital call that might have saved his life.

His body was found the next morning. The alleged fraudster had himself been cheated by death.

Kleon, who confessed the whole episode to police the following day, is now languishing in a cell in Bolzano awating trial on charges of homicide and aggravated fraud.

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

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