A serial killer who failed to return to prison after a two-day, good-behavior pass to visit his mother was recaptured Friday in France, Italy's justice minister said, ending an embarrassing episode that had raised questions about the government's new efforts to reduce prison overcrowding.

Annamaria Cancellieri announced the news Friday just hours after she had briefed the parliament on the escape of Bartolomeo Gagliano, who was serving a nine-year sentence for theft when he went missing this week.

On Friday, Cancellieri disputed prison officials' claims that they didn't know of Gagliano's background. The record, which started in 1981, includes convictions for multiple homicides, kidnapping, sexual violence, and other crimes. - AP