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Mentally ill Italian woman locked up

Published: 8:17AM Saturday June 14, 2008 Source: Reuters

A 47-year-old mentally ill Italian woman was locked up in a room by family members for 18 years, Italian police said after freeing the woman on Friday.

The woman was found in a crumbling room with "indescribable" sanitary conditions, police in the southern Italian town of Santa Maria Capua Vetere, near Naples, said.

The woman was apparently locked up 18 years ago after giving birth to a son out of wedlock.

She has been admitted to the psychiatric ward of a Naples hospital while her mother, brother and sister were arrested on charges of mistreatment and sequestration, the Ansa news agency reported.

The woman's son, a student, was found to be living with her relatives, but has not been charged, the news agency said.

Police are investigating whether the woman's mental illness began before or after her period of captivity, it said.