Daniele Mastrogiacomo, the Italian journalist freed on Monday after being heldÂ captive by the Taliban in Afghanistan, has described how he was forced to watch his chauffeur being decapitated.
He was welcomed by his wife and two children after arrivingÂ at Rome’s Ciampino’s airportÂ late on Tuesday on an Italian military plane.
Romano Prodi, the Italian prime minister and Ezio Mauro, the director of La Repubblica newspaper, also greeted him as he arrived.
Mastrogiacomo, 52, said in interviews that he was bound by his hands and feet and feared execution at any moment throughout his two-week hostage ordeal.
Mastrogiacomo told the Italian mediaÂ the death of his AfghanÂ driver had been the most terrifying moment of his captivity.
|“I get off my knees. Four young men grab the driver and shove his face into the sand. They cut his throat and continue until they have cut his whole head”
Released journalist in La Repubblica newspaper
“I can still see it now,” Mastrogiacomo said in La Repubblica. “I get off my knees. Four young men grab the driver and shove his face into the sand. They cut his throat and continue until they have cut his whole head.”
Â Â Â¼br /> “He is not able to make a gasp. They clean the knife on his tunic. They tie his severed head to his body. They bring it to the river and let it go.”
Mastrogiacomo, his interpreter and driver were abducted on March 4 in Helmand, a Taliban stronghold.
TheÂ kidnappersÂ accused the journalist of spying for Britain and announced last week through an Afghan news agency that the driver had been “executed” for spying.Â Â
About 150Â relatives of the driver demonstrated onÂ Tuesday in Helmand province against the government, saying it ignored his plight to focus on securing Mastrogiacomo’s release.
His interpreter Adjmal Nashkbandi was also freed on Monday, the Italian foreign ministry said, but other sources said that he was still being held.Â Â
A spokesman for Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, said a deal had been struck in order to secure the journalist’s release but would not give any details.
Â Â Â¼br /> “The president … had instructed security authorities to find out any possible way for the release of the Italian journalist in recognition for the friendship with Italy and its co-operation with Afghanistan,” he told reporters.
“A series of demands were made and they were met to some extent.”Â