Sunday, June 17, 2007


Strange business in Palneca

I don’t often write about crime and violence in this diary. But today I feel I must. There have been goings-on in Corse du Sud that are so bizarre and so Corsican, I feel they deserve your attention.

On 23rd February 1993, around 11.30 at night, two men were involved in an altercation in the Mariani bar in the village of Frasseto. One – Paul Santoni – used to be the secretary of the town hall in Palneca; the other was Pierre Melicucci, a bar manager at Grosetto-Prugna. During the interchange, Santoni fired several gunshots at Melicucci, as a result of which he died.

Santoni then disappeared. He was sentenced, in absentia, to 20 years imprisonment but was never caught.

The story now moves forward 14 years to 1st June 2007. At around 10pm on the evening of that day, Santoni’s body was deposited in the corridor of his wife’s apartment block on Palneca. A doctor who examined the 74-year-old’s body said that Santoni had died of natural causes, and pointed out that he showed signs of malnutrition. He had come to the conclusion that Santoni may have been hiding in a shelter in the maquis, and that for one reason or another the person whose job it was to provide him with food had not been able to deliver.

What the excellent account of the discovery in Corse Matin (4 June 2007) does not say is that it sounds like something out of ancient Corsican history. Pascal Paoli outlawed the vendetta in the mid 18th century, but, as suggested in Prosper Meromée’s novel Colomba, written in 1840, the practice undoubtedly continued. I am not suggesting that Melicucci’s death was part of a vendetta, but it does seem that the very Corsican practice of supporting killers while in hiding in plein maquis has continued to the present day.

My mother was born in Palneca, her father was a bandit called Bartoli and her mothers maiden name was Santoni, her father killed 2 policemen and was hunted down and killed in 1931.
Very interesting comment, Anon! Maybe your family is related.
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