From Times Online
August 28, 2008
Italy horrified by 'Clockwork Orange' assault on monks
The attack was randomly targeted at Franciscan monks who were eating dinner
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Richard Owen in Rome
Italians have been left shocked by a ferocious assault on Franciscan monks by hooded thugs at a monastery in the foothills of the Alps, which has been compared to incidents seen in the film 'A Clockwork Orange'.
Father Sergio Baldin, 48, the guardian of the San Colombano Belmonte monastery near Turin, and three elderly monks from the Franciscan order of Friars Minor, were having their evening meal when they were attacked by three hooded men who gagged and bound them before punching, kicking and beating them with clubs.
Father Baldin suffered severe head injuries but also has "serious respiratory problems" because he choked on his food while being assaulted, doctors say. He has had brain surgery and was in a coma.
Father Salvatore Magliano, 86, Father Emanuele Battagliotti, 81, and Father Martino Gurini, 76 suffered less serious injuries, but were still being treated in hospital today.
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Speaking from his hospital bed, Father Battagliotti said the monks had been eating "a dish of spinach" when they heard noises outside.
"I got up to have a look, but the moment I got to the door I was attacked - suddenly, immediately. I was struck on the head with a blow which made me totter," he said.
"Father Sergio (Baldin) came to my aid. He put himself in front of me to try and defend me, but he too was knocked down without mercy. They hit him until he stopped crying out. Then they beat Father Salvatore and Father Martin as well. It was terrible."
Cardinal Severino Poletto, the Archbishop of Turin, who visited the victims in hospital, said the attack was "beyond comprehension". The only possible explanation was that the assailants had been "either drugged or possessed, or both", he said.
Police said the motive appeared to robbery, although the monks only had "small amounts of money". A spokesman said: "Presumably the attackers thought they would find riches at the monastery."
Italian media compared the attack to A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess's story of violent young thugs, filmed in 1971 by Stanley Kubrick.
Father Gabriele Trivellin, provincial head of the Friars Minor, said the assault amounted to "mindless, savage and gratuitous violence". He said the hooded men had carried on beating the monks even though they offered no resistance.
Colonel Antonio De Vita, head of the Carabinieri in the province of Turin, said a manhunt was under way for the perpetrators, with road blocks set up in the area of the monastery.