A probe has been initiated by the Italian police into an image showing a U.S student suspected of killing an officer in a blindfold and handcuffs soon after his arrest. On Saturday, two teenage American was arrested in Rome for allegedly stabbing the Italian military police officer Mario Cerciello Rega.
The two were 19-year-old Finnegan Lee Elder and 18-year-old Gabriel Christian. Both of them belonged to San Francisco. They were accused of murder and attempt to extortion.
On Saturday a picture of Natale-Hjorth with head bowed and eyes covered by a blue blindfold at a police station started circulating on the Internet and was published by several Italian newspapers on Sunday.
Accepting the authenticity of the picture, the police said in a statement, “The general command of the (military police) Carabinieri disassociate themselves from the release and disclosure of photos of persons arrested for the murder of (officer) Mario Cerciello Rega.”
“The Carabinieri command in Rome is carrying out with extreme urgency an investigation to identify who is responsible,” they added. Later on Sunday, one police source said the investigation had found an officer responsible, adding he would be immediately moved to a non-operational role.
However, there was no confirmation from the officers. A disciplinary inquiry was launched by Rome’s prosecutor general Giovanni Salvi who decided to blindfold the suspect and keep him in handcuffs, “for what reasons and under which authority,” Salvi said in a statement.
Italy’s Interior Minister Matteo Salvini dismissed the controversy while human rights associations criticized the picture as disturbing.
“To those who complain about the blindfolding of a person arrested, I remind them that the only victim to cry for is a … Carabiniere … who died while doing his job, killed by people who, if guilty, deserve spending their life in prison,” Salvini tweeted.
“We plan to go to Rome as soon as the State Department assures us we will be able to see our son,” the statement said.
“We are also aware of the funeral plans for officer Rega, and wish to be respectful of his family and friends at this devastating time,” it added.