Sardinian independence activist goes missing

Doddore Meloni may have been kidnapped, police say

Sardinian independence activist goes missing

Sassari, February 15 - Sardinian independence activist Salvatore 'Doddore' Meloni disappeared near his home in the central-western town of Oristano Thursday evening, prompting authorities to launch an anti-kidnapping operation across the Italian island to the west of Tuscany and Lazio. Police said they were unable to verify a leaflet claiming responsibility for the disappearance, found in Meloni's abandoned car, from a self-styled 'Guardians of the Nation' group who said they wanted Meloni to pull his ticket from the February 24-25 general election. Meloni, 69, is a former truck driver who attempted to create a 'micro-nation' called the Republic of Maluentu after seizing the small barren islet of Mal Di Ventre off Oristano in 2008. Maluentu is Sardinian for Mal di Ventre. Meloni and his followers, claiming inspiration from secessionist movements in Kosovo, Abkhazia and South Ossetia, declared it to be an independent state as part of broader efforts by larger groups to win the independence of Sardinia. He declared himself president and set up an official residence in a blue plastic tent, saying the isle was tax-free. Meloni claimed over 300 had people expressed interest in moving to Maluentu, which was previously a meeting place for the Sardinian Independence Party. In the summer of 2012 Salvatore Meloni and five others were convicted of the illegal seizure of land. Mal di Ventre is now owned by British entrepreneur John Miller.

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