Italian police arrests ‘most wanted’ US fugitive in St Peter’s Square

ROME (Reuters) -Italian police arrested last week a “most wanted” U.S. fugitive who was carrying three concealed knives in a crowded St Peter’s Square outside the Vatican, a judicial source said on Thursday.

The fugitive, now in police custody, was identified as Moises Tejada, who is classified as violent by the New York state prison service’s investigations unit.

The 53-year-old is listed among the department’s most wanted individuals.

The arrest was first reported by Italy’s la Repubblica newspaper and confirmed by the source.

Tejada, whose name has the alternative spelling of Teiada, attracted the suspicion of police who detained him and found he was carrying knives that were 20 cm (8 inches) long.

St Peter’s Square was busy with pilgrims and tourists as Pope Francis was holding a general audience that day, Wednesday April 10. It was not clear if Tejada, who has convictions for robbery and kidnapping, posed any threat to the pope.

Investigators have found that he had recently arrived in Rome from Moldova, having previously spent time in Ukraine.

He told investigators he had been in Ukraine since 2022 fighting against the Russian invasion, la Repubblica reported.

The New York Department of Corrections said in a statement that Tejada had been released on parole from Sullivan Correctional Facility, a maximum-security prison north of New York City, in March 2022. A warrant to return him to custody for violating his parole conditions was issued seven months later, after he failed to report to his parole officer.

The department added that its Office of Special Investigations was working on extradition procedures from Italy with the U.S. Marshals Service, describing it as the lead agency for the case.


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