Europe

Sardinian independence activist dies after two-month hunger strike

Cagliari Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption Sardinian separatists have pushed for the autonomous island's independence from Italy

A prominent Sardinian independence activist has died in hospital in the island's capital Cagliari following a two-month hunger strike.

Salvatore Meloni, 74, locally known as "Doddore" had been serving a prison sentence since April for tax offences.

The condition of his health deteriorated late last month, according to Italian media reports.

The former truck driver had reportedly fallen into a coma days before his death.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption In 2014, thousands joined a Facebook group proposing that the Italian island of Sardinia become part of Switzerland

In September 2008, Mr Meloni declared the neighbouring private island of Mal di Ventre - Italian for stomach ache - as independent.

He also renamed it as the Republic of Maluentu, declared himself its leader, set up an official residence there comprised of a blue tent and issued his own currency.

Mr Meloni was later convicted, in 2012, alongside five others, of illegally seizing the land and taken to prison in Oristano, in Sardinia's west.

He reportedly said he wouldn't pay taxes to Italy, which he considered a "foreign country".

The activist has also stated in the past that the charges he faced for tax evasion were "unjust" and aimed to prevent him from seeking Sardinian independence.

Mr Meloni served a nine-year prison term in the 1980s for allegedly conspiring alongside the late deposed Libyan leader Col Muammar Gaddafi to secure Sardinia's independence.

The island of Sardinia, an autonomous region of Italy, is famous for its blue waters and Roman ruins. Its capital. Cagliari, has also become a place of arrival migrants travelling from Africa.

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