Four charged with UK murder of Italian teen

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.

Four charged with UK murder of Italian teen
Joele Leotta was killed in his apartment in Kent, England, on Sunday night. Photo: Facebook

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. 

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

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 Italian police arrest mafia member after three women killed in Rome

Italian police on Saturday arrested a mafia member suspected of killing two alleged Chinese prostitutes and a Colombian sex worker in Rome, local media reported.

 Italian police arrest mafia member after three women killed in Rome

The bodies of the two Chinese women were discovered in a residential building in the upmarket Prati district on Thursday morning, while the body of the South American was found in an apartment in the same neighbourhood an hour later.

All three victims were stabbed, according to Italian media reports.

According to the Corriere della Sera newspaper, footage from surveillance cameras allowed police to identify 51-year-old Giandavide De Pau, who had been prosecuted in the past for drug trafficking and sexual assault.

The suspect is reportedly a member of a mafia clan headed by Michele Senese, who is currently serving a life sentence. De Pau is believed to have been one of Senese’s closest collaborators, acting as his personal driver and handyman.

In 2008 and 2011, the suspect had also spent time in a psychiatric hospital.

It is unknown whether the suspected killer was carrying out a mafia hit or acting alone, possibly under the influence of drugs, which were found at the home of some family members where he is believed to have sought refuge after the police manhunt got underway, Corriere della Sera reported.

Several newspapers had warned of a possible “serial killer” in the Italian capital.

The body of one of the Chinese victims was spotted by a neighbour where it lay, naked on a landing. The woman, believed to be in her 40s, had suffered head and stomach injuries, the newspaper said.

When police entered her apartment, they found the body of the second Chinese woman.

Nobody in the building appeared to have heard the murders take place, according to residents.

“Everybody knew there was a house of ill repute here, I’d see people arriving at 2:00 am, 3:00 am,” a woman who lived in the building told reporters.

The body of the Colombian, who was 65, was found by a friend, Corriere della Sera said.