CALGARY — A two-year ordeal for an Alberta senior who said her home was claimed as an embassy by a self-proclaimed follower of the sovereign citizen movement is over.
Police in Calgary swooped in at 2 a.m. local time Friday and arrested Andreas Pirelli, also known as Mario Antonacci, on several outstanding warrants issued by courts in Quebec.
Rebekah Caverhill, who rented the home to Pirelli in November 2011, cried tears of joy after hearing the news.
“I’m so grateful,” said Caverhill, in an interview with The Canadian Press from her home in Sylvan Lake, Alta.
“I don’t know what I’m walking into when I walk in there, but that’s nothing. Bricks and boards can be fixed but there are some things that are far more precious then bricks and boards — that’s the idea of freedom and standing up for what you think is right.”
Pirelli was already facing an eviction notice but the process wasn’t expected to occur until Saturday morning.
The arrest occurred a few hours after two officers visited the home Thursday evening and went without a hitch.
“It went relatively smoothly,” said Calgary Police Duty Insp. Darrell Hesse.
“Our members attended the address at shortly before two; conducted a door knock. They were able to make contact with that individual and they took him into custody without incident.”
Hesse said Pirelli, 48, will remain in custody until he is transported back to Quebec.
Pirelli was charged with pushing a landlady down a flight of stairs in Montreal in 2007. An arrest warrant was issued in May 2010 when he failed to show up during his trial.
The Montreal trial involved an alleged assault on a woman, Jocelyne Malouf, who said she allowed Antonacci to house-sit a home rent-free for five months while its occupant was out of the country.
Malouf told The Canadian Press she had problems when asking him to leave.
“He was trying to keep the apartment for him without paying nothing,” she said.
She alleges he threw her down a flight of stairs breaking her pelvis, arm, wrist and ankle. Malouf said she was then picked up and thrown onto the street.
“I hope that the lady in Quebec who had the problem…I hope I’ve done something to help make her life easier and she can rest easier now,” said Caverhill.
The Law Society of British Columbia and B.C. Notaries has issued warnings about Freemen and in a bulletin last year, the society estimated the group could number as many as 30,000 in Canada.
RCMP and the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police are developing awareness materials for front-line officers and the movement is the subject of upcoming policing seminars in Vancouver and Toronto.
The FBI considers the movement a domestic terror threat in the U.S., but a Freemen-on-the-Land spokesman told The Canadian Press earlier this month that violence is not advocated and has no place in the movement.
Caverhill said she inexplicably woke up around the same time that the arrest was made and was asked by her fiance if she was having a nightmare.
“I said no, I’m not. It’s done,” she said.
“I said I feel such a calmness that I havent felt before and it was like God said, ’Don’t worry, I’m looking after you and it’s done.’ ”