African migrant beaten to death in Italian town centre as people looked on
Tim Hanlon
A Nigerian migrant was killed in Civitanova Marche. Polizia di stato/Questura di Macerata

A Nigerian migrant was killed in Civitanova Marche. Polizia di stato/Questura di Macerata

A Nigerian street seller was beaten to death in the center of a busy Italian town and while onlookers failed to step in to stop the attack. 

Police have arrested an Italian man after video footage of the attack was circulated widely on Italian news websites and social media, sparking outrage at the brutality.

It comes as Italy is entering a parliamentary election campaign in which the right-wing coalition has already made immigration an issue.

"The murder of Alika Ogorchukwu is dismaying," Enrico Letta, a former premier and the head of the left-wing Democratic Party, wrote on Twitter, naming the vendor who died Friday.

"Unheard of ferocity. Widespread indifference. There can be no justification."

Right-wing leader Matteo Salvini, who is making security a key plank of his campaign, also expressed outrage over the death, saying "security has no color and ... needs to return to being a right."

Ogorchukwu, 39, was selling goods Friday on the main street of Civitanova Marche, a beach town on the Adriatic Sea, when his attacker grabbed the vendor's crutch and struck him down, according to police. 

Video shows the assailant wrestling the victim on the pavement, eventually subduing Ogorchukwu with the weight of his body.

"The aggressor went after the victim, first hitting him with a crutch. He made him fall to the ground, then he finished, causing the death, striking repeatedly with his bare hands," police investigator Matteo Luconi told a press conference.

He later told Italian media that onlookers called police, who responded after the suspect had fled and attempted to administer first aid to the victim. An autopsy will determine the cause of death.

Police used CCTV to track the assailant's movements and detained a man identified as Filippo Claudio Giuseppe Ferlazzo, 32. He was arrested on suspicion of murder, and theft for allegedly taking the victim's phone.

Luconi said the assailant lashed out after the vendor made "insistent" requests for pocket change. Police were questioning witnesses and viewing videos of the attack. The suspect has made no statement, police added. 

Ogorchukwu, who was married with two children, resorted to selling goods on the street after he was struck by a car and lost his job as a laborer due to his injuries, said Daniel Amanza, who runs the ACSIM association for immigrants in the Marche region's Macerata province.



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Amanza gave a different version of what happened, saying the attacker became infuriated when Ogorchukwu told the man's companion she was beautiful.

"This compliment killed him," Amanza said.

"The tragic fact is that there were many people nearby. They filmed, saying 'stop' but no one moved to separate them," Amanza said.

Macerata was the site of a 2018 shooting spree targeting African immigrants that wounded six people. Luca Traini, 31, was sentenced to 12 years in prison for the shootings, which Italy's highest court confirmed as a hate crime.

Civitanova Marche's mayor, Fabrizio Ciarapica, met with members of the Nigerian community after hundreds demonstrated on Saturday.

"My condemnation is not only for the (crime) but it is also for the indifference," Ciarapica told media. "This is something that has shocked citizens."

Former Premier Matteo Renzi, who heads his own small party, called out political leaders for "instrumentalizing" the attack.

"I am horrified by this electoral climate," he said on social media. "A father was killed in an atrocious and racist way while passersby took video without stopping the aggressor. And instead of reflecting on what we are becoming, politicians argue and instrumentalize.”

Source(s): AP

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