Two Americans given life sentences for Italy cop murder

Two Americans Italy cop murder
Two Americans Italy cop murder

ROME: Two Americans have been sentenced to life in an Italian prison after a teenage vacation in Rome ended in a brutal fight that left a local police officer dead.

Finnegan Lee Elder, 21, and Gabriel Christian Natale-Hjorth, 20, both from California, were in Rome on holiday when Mario Cerciello Rega was fatally stabbed on a street in the Italian capital in July 2019.

The men were found guilty of extortion for stealing a backpack from a drug pusher and demanding money or drugs in exchange. Elder was separately found guilty of carrying a military grade knife, which is a prohibited weapon in Italy. Two female judges led six jury members to a verdict after 10 hours.

Cerciello Rega, who was 35, had only just returned to work after his honeymoon. A state funeral was held for the officer, who the prosecutor Maria Sabina Calabretta said was killed in a “disproportionate and deadly attack”.

Calabretta has called for the accused pair, who have been in prison since their arrest, to be given life sentences. “Life imprisonment is not a trophy to be exhibited but a just penalty … In the face of such tragic facts, nobody wins and nobody loses,” Calabretta said in her rebuttal to defence arguments in late April.

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