Renzi under pressure over brutal Sicily murder

Italy’s Prime Minister Matteo Renzi came under increasing pressure on Tuesday to respond after an asylum seeker was arrested on suspicion of the brutal murder of an elderly couple in Sicily.

Renzi under pressure over brutal Sicily murder
Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

The 18-year-old from the Ivory Coast was arrested on Sunday after the bodies of Victor Solano, 68, and his 70-year-old Spanish wife, Mercedes Ibanez, were found at their home near a refugee centre in Mineo, a town outside Catania.

The arrest flared the debate over migrants in Italy, with Matteo Salvini, the leader of the anti-immigration Northern League party, writing on Twitter and Facebook on Monday: “From what war was this guy escaping??? If he’s guilty, jail for life, with HARD LABOUR!”

Salvini later said on Twitter he would visit Mineo on Friday, to “speak to Sicilians”, who he described as “the most welcoming people in the world”.

“But there's a limit,” he added.  

The suspect was implicated in the double murder after a phone and laptop, allegedly belonging to the victims, were found in a bag he was carrying as he entered the refugee centre. He claimed he found the bag in the street.

Blood-stained trousers, thought to belong to the suspect, were also found in the garden of the couple’s home.

The suspect was also allegedly wearing a T-Shirt belonging to Solano, which was recognized by the deceased man’s daughter, at the time of his arrest.

Solano was found with his throat slit while his wife’s body was found in the courtyard beneath their apartment. It is believed that she fell from the balcony.

Renzi has so far stayed silent after the couple’s daughter, Rosita Solano, blamed the government for the murders, saying it allowed “immigrants to come here and do what they want, even rob and kill us.”

On Tuesday she told Corriere that neither the premier nor Angelino Alfano, Italy’s Interior Minister, had even Tweeted a message of support.

“My parents didn’t even merit a tweet,” she said.

“I want justice – not political controversy: Renzi come and speak to me, show your face…before the funeral. When he was nominated premier, I thought Italy would finally be worth something in Europe, instead…”

Giorgio Meloni, a politician from the right-wing Fratelli d’Italia, and Vincenzo Gibiino from Forze Italia called for the Mineo centre – the largest of such facilities in Europe – to be closed.

Some 110,000 migrants have landed in Italy since the start of the year, the majority arriving in Sicily and the nearby island of Lampedusa.


 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.