‘Alarming’ messages of solidarity for Macerata shooter, lawyer reveals

The lawyer representing a man accused of injuring six in a shooting spree targeting immigrants has said the level of solidarity for the shooter is "alarming".

'Alarming' messages of solidarity for Macerata shooter, lawyer reveals
A handgun is pictured in the back seat of the suspect's car. Photo: Giuseppe Bellini/AFP

Suspect Luca Traini, 28, made a fascist salute after the drive-by shooting, which he has said was motivated by the recent murder of a local woman in the Macerata, though he did not know the 18-year-old personally. After hearing on the radio that a Nigerian man had been arrested for the murder, Traini told investigators: “I wanted to avenge [murder victim] Pamela [Mastropietro], and do something about immigration.”

His lawyer, Giancarlo Giulianelli, told Italian media on Monday that he has been given numerous messages of support for Traini.

“Politically, there's a problem. In Macerata, people stop me to give messages of solidarity with Luca,” he said after a meeting with his client. “It's alarming, but it gives us a sense of what is happening.”

Giulianelli went on to say that Traini was “the tip of an iceberg” and that the failure to successfully tackle problems associated with migration was the responsibility of Italy's politicians.

“Politics hasn't given an answer to the problem. The right has exploited it, the left has ignored and underestimated it,” the lawyer told the Ansa news agency.

The victims of the shooting included five men and one woman from Ghana, Mali and Nigeria, though Traini has reportedly said he “did not want” to hit the woman when he opened fire from his car.

Traini has a fascist-inspired tattoo and left a Mussolini votive candle near the spot where Mastopietro's body was found. He is a member of the far-right Northern League, the junior ally in a centre-right coalition that is currently leading opinion polls ahead of a March election. He also ran in local elections last year.   

The party's leader, Matteo Salvini, has said he can't remember meeting Traini. He said that “everyone who shoots someone is a criminal”, but added: “The moral responsibility of every incident of violence that happens in Italy is that of those who have filled it with illegal immigrants.”

Coalition ally Silvio Berlusconi, who leads the Forza Italia party, described the shooting as “non-political” and called immigration “a social bomb ready to explode”, before reiterating plans to deport 600,000 migrants from the country.

Matteo Renzi, secretary of the centre-left Democratic Party, appealed for “calm and responsibility” after the shooting.

“It would be easy to keep up the controversy aimed at those who feed hatred every day, but it would be a mistake,” said Renzi.

Five Star Movement leader Luigi Di Maio also urged party leaders “not to campaign on the skin of the murdered girl and those injured [by Traini]”.

READ MORE: 'It could have been me': Shooting highlights racial tension ahead of Italy elections


New York returns 214 stolen artworks to Italy in seven months

Authorities in New York announced on Thursday the return to Italy of 14 more antiquities, worth an estimated €2.3 million, as part of an investigation into smuggling of stolen artifacts.

New York returns 214 stolen artworks to Italy in seven months

The Manhattan District Attorney’s office has been conducting an extensive investigation over the past two years into looted antiquities that have ended up in New York museums and galleries — including the prestigious Metropolitan Museum of Art.

During a ceremony on Thursday with the Italian consul general and Italian police representatives, 14 more artifacts – some 2,600 years old – were officially returned to Italy, bringing the total number of repatriated pieces to that country over the past seven months to 214, District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office said.

READ ALSO: Italian ‘art squad’ police recover 800 illegally-excavated archaeological finds

More than 700 pieces worth more than $100 million have been returned in the past year to 17 countries, including Italy as well as Cambodia, India, Pakistan, Egypt, Iraq, and Greece, the statement added.

New York, a hub of stolen antiquities trafficking for decades, set up a task force in 2017 to investigate the illicit trade.

According to the statement by District Attorney Bragg, who took office in January 2022, Thursday’s repatriation included the silver “Sicily Naxos Coin,” minted around 430 BCE and currently valued at half a million dollars.

Other notable items included ancient pottery dating to 510 BCE, and amarble head of Roman Emperor Hadrian, dating to 200 CE.

Among the culprits behind the 14 returned pieces, the statement said, were well-known art traffickers Giacomo Medici and Giovanni Franco Becchina, as well as Robert Hecht, the Paris-based American art dealer who died in 2012.

The traffickers had “relied on gangs of tombaroli (tomb raiders) to loot carefully chosen and insufficiently guarded archaeological sites throughout the Mediterranean,” it added.