Four charged with UK murder of Italian teen

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Joele Leotta was killed in his apartment in Kent, England, on Sunday night. Photo: Facebook
19:13 CEST+02:00
Four Lithuanian men have been charged with the murder of a 19-year-old Italian man killed at the weekend in Kent, south-east of London.

Joele Leotta was beaten to death on Sunday evening in the city of Maidstone, where he had moved just a week earlier to work and improve his English.

Aleksandras Zuravliovas, 26, Tomas Gelezinis, 30, and 23-year-old Saulius Tamoliunas all live locally and have been charged with Leotta's murder. A fourth Lithuanian charged, 21-year-old Linas Zidonis, was described by British police as having "no fixed abode".

A total of 10 people have been arrested in connection with the murder, a police statement released on Wednesday evening said.

Leotta, from Nibionno in Lombardy, had just started working at the Italian restaurant Vesuvius when he was killed in an apartment above the restaurant on Sunday night, local news site Kent Online reported.

Police refused to disclose any motivation for the murder. The foreign nationality of the men charged contradicts earlier reports in Italian media said Leotta’s attackers accused him of “stealing English jobs” and suggested the murder was motivated by xenophobia. 

“Joele was so happy having this experience [in England]. We are so bewildered we can’t even think,” his father Ivan Leotta told ANSA news agency.

“My son was not someone who liked to quarrel and in any case he had just arrived and hadn’t had time to come into conflict with anyone,” he added. 

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The four Lithuanians will appear in court by video link on Thursday, police said.

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