two US teens jailed in Italy in policeman’s killing

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ROME — Two American teenagers who have been classmates at a California higher college spent a second evening in a Rome jail Saturday just after they have been interrogated for hours about their alleged roles in the murder of an Italian policeman.

Investigators contended in written statements Saturday that the pair had confessed to their roles in the grisly slaying. Vice Brigadier Mario Cerciello Rega, a member of the storied Carabinieri paramilitary corps, was stabbed eight occasions, allegedly by a single of the teens, leaving him bleeding on a street close to the teens’ upscale hotel close to Rome’s Tiber River.

Italian authorities identified the two as Gabriel Christian Natale-Hjorth, 18, and Finnegan Lee Elder, 19, and stated they have been born in San Francisco.

Police stated they have been apparently vacationing in the Italian capital devoid of household members.

In the detention order, Elder is described as repeatedly stabbing the 35-year-old officer, who had just returned to duty a couple of days earlier from his honeymoon.

Investigators stated Cerciello Rega, along with a further Carabinieri officer, have been each in plainclothes when they confronted the Americans about three a.m. Friday in the wake of a drug deal gone incorrect.


In this combo photo released by Italian Carabinieri, Gabriel Christian Natale Hjorth, suitable, and Finnegan Lee Elder, sit in their hotel area in Rome. Two American teenagers have been jailed in Rome on Saturday as authorities carry out a murder investigation in the killing of Italian police officer Mario Cerciello Rega, 35. A detention order issued by prosecutors was shown on Italian state broadcaster RAI, naming the suspects as Gabriel Christian Natale Hjorth and Finnegan Lee Elder. (Italian Carabinieri by way of AP) (Related Press)

Natale-Hjorth was described in the document as getting repeatedly punched Cerciello Rega’s companion.

Below Italian law, persons participating in a killing, but who didn’t really carry out the slaying itself, threat getting charged with murder.

Each suspects are also getting investigated for attempted extortion.

Cerciello Rega, beloved for his charity perform with the homeless and the ailing, was praised as a hero for attempting to assist maintain Rome’s streets protected.

Pictures of the officer, wearing his uniform for his wedding and displaying off his wedding band as he sat subsequent to his beaming bride, dominated the front pages of several Italian newspapers Saturday.

Parents with their youngsters left bouquets of flowers at the bloodstained website.

Authorities vowed that justice would be performed.

“Hoping that the killer of our poor Carabiniere never ever gets out of prison, I remind do-gooders that in the United States, whoever kills dangers the death penalty,” tweeted Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, who is also in charge of state police, a further national Italian police corps. “I’m not saying we’ll get to that, but yes to a life in prison (in labor, clearly).”

Like all European Union nations, Italy does not have the death penalty.

Elder’s lawyer, Francesco Codini, stated his client had exercised his suitable not to respond to queries throughout a hearing just before a judge at the jail Saturday to identify whether or not the suspects stay locked up.

Italian state radio reported Sunday the judge ruled that the Americans keep in jail even though the investigation goes forward.

Suspects deemed a flight threat are usually denied release. Italian police had stated the two teens have been preparing to leave Italy later on Friday.

Codini declined to say something additional out of “respect for the family” of the slain officer. Asked how Elder was undertaking psychologically, he replied: “worn out.”

Natale-Hjorth’s lawyer didn’t speak to reporters waiting outdoors the jail just after the hearing.

The young guys have been higher college classmates in Mill Valley, a wealthy suburb 10 miles (16 kilometers) north of San Francisco en route to the towering redwood trees in Muir Woods National Park. The town of 14,000 is a desirable location for households who are drawn to its protected, leafy neighborhoods and trustworthy public schools.

“We are shocked and dismayed at the events that have been reported, but we have really tiny independent info about these events,” Elder’s household stated in a statement. “We have not been capable to have any communication with our son.”

The household expressed condolences to the policeman’s household and “all of these who have been impacted by this tragedy.”

At a residence listed for the mother of Natale-Hjorth, a young man who answered the door yelled “No!” when an Related Press reporter asked to speak to her.

An Italian investigator stated the pair had snatched the bag of a drug dealer in Rome just after the man apparently gave them a diverse substance alternatively of the cocaine they have been looking for. The particular person spoke on situation of anonymity for the reason that the probe is continuing.

In a statement, the Carabinieri contended that the Americans demanded money and cocaine to return the knapsack. They stated the bag, with a telephone inside, was snatched from an Italian man. The Americans, police stated, “threatened to not give it back to him devoid of payment of 100 euros and a gram of cocaine.”

The bag’s owner reported the theft, and the plainclothes officers have been sent to the website of the rendezvous to allegedly turn more than the bag for ransom, the statement stated.

The Americans, “even although the officers identified themselves as getting Carabinieri, didn’t hesitate to engage in a struggle, culminating in the mortal wounding” of the policeman, the statement stated.

Italian police officers carry guns, but it was unclear why they weren’t utilized.

The Carabinieri stated surveillance cameras and witnesses helped them recognize and obtain the Americans. Although browsing their hotel area, police stated, investigators identified a extended knife hidden inside the room’s dropped ceiling. Also identified have been clothing worn throughout the attack, police stated.

The Carabinieri statement stated the Americans throughout their interrogation and confronted with “hard proof,” had “confessed to their blame.”

This case could spark comparisons to a further spectacular slaying investigation involving a young American in Italy.

Amanda Knox was an American university student in Perugia when she was initially accused in the 2007 stabbing death of her British roommate Meredith Kercher. She was convicted but eventually acquitted.

Italian media focused on Knox, largely ignoring the fate of the Briton. In contrast, a decade later, the murder victim is an Italian policeman at a time when Salvini’s law-and-order suitable-wing celebration is soaring in recognition.

“Hero of the Fatherland, justice for Mario,” study a note, signed by the “neighborhood citizens” and left close to the scene of his death.

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Giada Zampano, Dolores Hinckley and Related Press writer Daisy Nguyen contributed to this report.

Copyright 2019 The Related Press. All rights reserved. This material may possibly not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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