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US students accused of killing Italian policeman should be ’sentenced to life’

A Rome prosecutor has referred to as for 2 American college students accused of murdering an Italian police officer to be sentenced to life in jail.

In her indictment, prosecutor Maria Sabina Calabretta informed a courtroom on Saturday that the pair, Finnegan Lee Elder, 21, and Gabriel Christian Natale-Hjorth, 19, must also be put in solitary confinement in the course of the day.

Elder and Natale-Hjorth are accused of the deadly stabbing of Mario Cerciello Rega on a road in central Rome in July 2019.

Calabretta described Cerciello Rega, who was 35, as a “good man” who was killed in a “disproportionate and lethal assault”.


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Prosecutor Maria Sabina Calabretta delivering her speech. {Photograph}: Alessandra Tarantino/EPA

Cerciello Rega was murdered and his colleague, Andrea Varriale, injured after the officers, each in plainclothes, had been confronted by Elder and Natale-Hjorth within the Prati district of Rome as they tried to analyze a bag snatch.

Earlier within the night, Elder and Natale-Hjorth, who had been within the Italian capital on vacation, had tried to purchase cocaine in Trastevere, a well-liked nightlife space. A intermediary took them to a drug vendor, who offered them aspirin as a substitute. In retaliation, they snatched the intermediary’s bag, which contained his cell phone, and fled earlier than allegedly demanding a money ransom and cocaine to return the bag.

The intermediary was in a position to contact the pair after calling his telephone, and organized to fulfill them within the Prati district. However he had additionally contacted the police after reporting the theft, and so the 2 officers went to the location.

The defendants, each from California, stated they mistook the officers for criminals related to the intermediary.

The pair fled the scene and the subsequent day had been traced to a lodge, the place police discovered the 18cm (7in) fight knife that was used to stab Cerciello Rega 11 instances. Elder informed police he had introduced the knife in a suitcase from the US.

Elder and Natale-Hjorth have been in a Rome jail since their arrest.

In an announcement to the courtroom final Monday, Elder stated he didn’t know Cerciello Rega was a police officer, mistaking him as a substitute for a drug vendor.

“After listening to all these hearings, I’ve realised it’s tough to consider an individual in my place,” Elder stated. “However what I’m telling you at present is the reality, simply as I spoke the reality on the time.”

Elder admitted stabbing Cerciello Rega a number of instances, however stated he and Natale-Hjorth had been jumped by males they thought had been drug sellers.

He added: “When these males approached they instantly attacked us like they wished to rob or damage us with out saying a phrase and with out exhibiting any ID or some other object. They didn’t even say ‘polizia’, which sounds just like the English phrase police.”

Throughout a earlier listening to Elder apologised for the homicide and to Cerciello Rega’s household, referring to the night time in query as “the worst of my life”.

Varriale testified that the 2 officers approached the younger males on the road from the entrance and confirmed their badges, though Cerciello Rega’s was by no means discovered.

Natale-Hjorth, who fought with Varriale, additionally faces the cost of “voluntary homicide”.

Calabretta stated: “Cerciello didn’t have time to develop any energetic defence. He was killed with 11 stab wounds in lower than 30 seconds. There isn’t a signal of an assault by Cerciello or an tried strangulation.”

Source: US students accused of killing Italian policeman should be ’sentenced to life’

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