A 74-year-old Sardinian independence campaigner, Salvatore "Doddore" Meloni, died in a Cagliari hospital Wednesday after a two-month-long hunger strike. Meloni was put in jail April 28 to serve time for tax offences. He was one of the best-known leaders of Sardinia's independence fight.
Meloni was 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, which has impressive Roman ruins.
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 was owned at the time by British entrepreneur John Miller, who had owned the island since 1972. In July 2014 the island was put up for sale, with an asking price of £1,200,000.