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CRIME

Italian police officers jailed over the death of Stefano Cucchi

Two Carabinieri officers were found guilty of the involuntary manslaughter of Stefano Cucchi in 2009, in a harrowing case of police brutality that shocked Italy and the world.

Italian police officers jailed over the death of Stefano Cucchi
The Italian Court of Cassation in Rome. Photo: AFP

The officers were sentenced on Thursday to 12 years in jail after being found guilty of the fatal beating that led to Cucchi's death, Italian media reported.

Alessio di Bernardo and Raffaele d’Alessandro, members of the Italian military police unit, were found guilty of the charge of omicidio preterintenzionale, or involuntary manslaughter, in the case of Stefano Cucchi, who was arrested on a minor drugs charge in a Rome park in October 2009.

A week later, Cucchi was found dead in his room at Rome’s Sandro Pertini hospital, where he had been taken for treatment for injuries which including two fractured vertebrae and a broken jaw.

The already slight Cucchi weighed just 37 kilos when he died, and photos taken by his family of his emaciated and battered body in the morgue left Italians reeling with shock.

The ruling comes after his sister Ilaria's long fight for justice, as she tried to establish who was responsible for her brother's death nearly a decade ago but repeatedly came up against a wall of silence from Italian authorities.

Ilaria and Stefano Cucchi before his death in police custody. Photo: Ilaria Cucchi/Facebook

In October 2014, a judge acquitted the officers due to a lack of evidence.

But Italy’s court of cassation, its supreme court in Rome, reopened the case in December 2015 and a new trial began. The turning point came in October 218, when one of the police officers being investigated began to collaborate with prosecutors, and confessing the details of the killing.

Francesco Tedesco – who was also charged with the murder of Cucchi but cleared of wrongdoing on Thursday – told a courtroom in Rome that his colleagues had kicked and punched Cucchi in the face, causing his death.

Tedesco claimed he had been threatened by officials and warned to keep quiet and conceal a report about the incident.

“I apologise to the Cucchi family,” Tedesco told the court at the time. “The last few years have been an insurmountable wall for me. It was not easy to inform against my colleagues.”

Following the sentencing, Caribinieri commander general Giovanni Nistri spoke of his “deep sorrow” over “the events culminating in the death of Stefano Cucchi. A pain that today is even more intense after the sentence… that defines the responsibility of some carabinieri who failed in their duty, thereby disregarding the fundamental values ​of the institution.”

Cucchi's story became known worldwide after a 2018 Netflix film based on his story, On My Skin, won three David di Donatello awards, the Italian equivalent of the Oscars.

Speaking after the ruling on Friday, Ilaria Cucchi told local media: “Stefano was killed. We knew that and we’ve been repeating it for 10 years. Now perhaps my brother can rest in peace.”

People hold candles in honour of Stefano Cucchi at a demonstration in front of Rome's Supreme Council of Judiciary in 2014. Photo: AFP

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ROME

Tourist fined €450 for swim in Rome’s Trevi Fountain

With the return of tourism and scorching temperatures, Rome’s fountains are once again attracting visitors hoping to cool off with a midnight swim.

Tourist fined €450 for swim in Rome's Trevi Fountain

In the latest incident, a 26-year-old Spanish man was fined 450 euros after taking a dip in the Trevi Fountain in the early hours of Sunday morning.

Rome’s city police apprehended and fined the man after he was spotted swimming in the 18th-century monument at around 5am, according to local media reports.

READ ALSO: How to keep cool like an Ancient Roman in Italy’s summer heat

Every summer, hapless foreign visitors face fines of hundreds of euros after falling foul of Rome’s strict ban on taking a dip in public fountains – with the city mayor warning tourists that the centuries-old Baroque monuments are “not swimming pools”.

In April, two Dutch tourists also faced fines totalling over €1,000 after their own ill-advised splash in the Trevi Fountain.

The Roman landmark is one of the city’s main magnets for badly-behaved visitors, but tourists have also been fined after cooling off in the Santa Maria fountain in Trastevere, believed to be the city’s oldest. 

Since 2018, anyone caught misbehaving at Rome’s monuments can also face a temporary ‘Daspo’ ban from the area – similar to an ASBO (anti-social behaviour order) in the UK – which allows city police to restrict the movement of people they deem a threat to public order.

READ ALSO: From selfie brawls to midnight swims: Tourists behaving badly at the Trevi Fountain

But a plan to erect a one-metre-high glass and steel barrier around the Trevi fountain to protect it from unruly visitors now appears to have been abandoned after arts and heritage experts called the idea “foolish”.

Fines for swimming in the fountains have been in place since 2015, but this hasn’t stopped determined visitors from recreating scenes from La Dolce Vita and even some locals from taking a dip – – with or without their clothes.

Swimming in the wrong place is just one of the offences regularly committed by visitors, with graffiti and vandalism a common problem at many of Italy’s famous monuments.

READ ALSO: 15 strange ways to get into trouble on holiday in Italy

In Rome alone, this year tourists have made headlines for everything from breaking into the Colosseum to enjoy a drink with a view to driving a car down the Spanish Steps.

Other Italian tourism hotspots, including Florence and Venice, also have varying local rules in place aimed at curbing rowdy behaviour.

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