LISBON (Reuters) - Portuguese police have recaptured a convict who had escaped in 1993 and had been hiding in the caves in the mountains for 16 years receiving help from villagers nearby, local media said on Thursday.
The 54-year-old former shepherd, thin and heavily bearded but healthy, was arrested on Wednesday in the north of the country in a police operation dubbed “Cro-Magnon” in reference to Europe’s early humans who lived in caves thousands of years ago, Diario de Noticias daily said.
He had been convicted and sentenced to a 10-year term for accidentally killing a neighbor in a discussion over a sheep flock, but escaped after about 2 years in prison.
Local residents were quoted as saying the man, who only had a dog for company during his hiding, never harmed anyone while on the run. A local mayor said the village would hire a lawyer to try to alleviate his sentence.
Police were quoted as saying many locals had been helping the fugitive by giving him food, money or offering odd jobs, but would not tell the police about his whereabouts when questioned. Police say he would have to serve at least the remaining eight years of his sentence.
Jornal de Noticias daily said the man was very worried about the fate of his pet and, when arrested, pleaded to give it to a villager he knew.
Reporting by Andrei Khalip