Shepherd in Sardinia wrongfully jailed for 32 years free at last

ROME, Jan 27: An Italian shepherd has been freed from prison after spending more than three decades locked up for a triple murder on the Mediterranean island of Sardinia – a crime that he never committed.

An appeals court acquitted 58-year-old Beniamino Zuncheddu of all charges on Friday evening in Rome. The judges overturned the sentence of life imprisonment because the shepherd “did not commit the crime.” 

“This is the end of a nightmare,” Zuncheddu said after the acquittal.

The shepherd had been found guilty by a previous court of murdering three other men – the owner of a farm, his son and another shepherd – in the mountains of Sardinia in January 1991. This was based on the testimony of another man who had been seriously injured in the attack.

He had initially claimed not to have recognised the attacker, but then changed his statement under pressure from the police and incriminated Zuncheddu. He has now returned to his original version.

The acquittal was greeted with applause in the courtroom by the shepherd’s family and friends. But there were also tears. Zuncheddu served a total of more than 32 years in prison due to the wrongful conviction. He is now to receive compensation.