Italian authorities have arrested a man who was wanted for beating and strangling a disabled Nigerian man to death as onlookers watched and filmed nearby.
Al Jazeera reports that Filippo Claudio Giuseppe Ferlazzo, 32, is being held on murder charges for the death of Alika Ogorchukwu, who was described as a street vendor in Civitanova Marche, a beach town on the Adriatic Sea. Ferlazzo was also charged with theft for allegedly taking Ogorchukwu’s phone.
Deadly Assault Has Caused Widespread Outrage and Condemnation
The incident has caused international outrage and condemnation on social media, with many pointing out how onlookers failed to help the man during the prolonged and deadly assault.
In Italy, the attack comes as the country enters a parliamentary election campaign, wherein the right-wing coalition has already made immigration an issue.
Meanwhile, left-wing politicians called the murder “dismaying” and noted its “unheard of ferocity and widespread indifference.”
Warning, disturbing video content below.
— Umut Çağrı Sarı (@umutcagrisari) July 30, 2022
“The murder of Alika Ogorchukwu is dismaying,’’ Enrico Letta, a former prime minister and the head of the left-wing Democratic Party, tweeted on Saturday. “Unheard of ferocity. Widespread indifference. There can be no justification.”
On Friday, Ogorchukwu, 39, was reportedly selling goods on the main street of the Italian coastal town when his attacker grabbed his crutch and struck him down, police said.
Video shows Ferlazzo wrestling Ogorchukwu, who was had his back to the pavement as he fought back. However, Ferlazzo was able to subdue Ogorchukwu with the weight of his body, according to Al Jazeera.
“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 news conference.
E' stato convalidato l'arresto di Filippo Claudio Giuseppe Ferlazzo, 32 anni,che venerdì ha picchiato a morte l'ambulante nigeriano Alika Ogorchukwu in strada a Civitanova Marche.Ferlazzo,ha chiesto scusa chiarendo:”nessuna motivazione di tipo razziale”. pic.twitter.com/Vz4j4aoE22
— Franco Scarsella (@FrancoScarsell2) August 1, 2022
Investigator Matteo Luconi told Italian news channel Sky TG24 that onlookers did eventually call police, who responded after the suspect fled the scene. Authorities attempted to administer aid to the victim, who was later pronounced dead.
The outlet reports that an autopsy will determine an exact cause of death, and whether it was from suffocating or from the strikes to the head.
Police were able to track Ferlazzo’s movements in the immediate aftermath of the deadly attack using street cameras.
Differing Version Of Events As To What Preceded Deadly Assault
Luconi added that Ferlazzo said he attacked the man after he made “insistent” requests for money. Police were questioning witnesses and viewing videos of the attack. They said the suspect has made no statement.
However, Daniel Amanza, who runs the ACSIM association for immigrants in the Marche region’s Macerata province, said that Ogorchukwu, who was married with two children, gave a different version of what happened.
Amanza said Ferlazzo became enraged after Ogorchukwu told him his female companion was beautiful.
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“This compliment killed him,’’ Amanza told The Associated Press.
Amanza added that Ogorchukwu had resorted to work as a street vendor after he was hit by a car, injuring his legs. He had previously worked as a laborer.
“The tragic fact is that there were many people nearby. They filmed, saying, ‘Stop,’ but no one moved to separate them,’’ Amanza said.
Politicians From Both Sides Of The Aisle Condemn Deadly Attack
Meanwhile, politicians in Italy from both sides of the political spectrum have condemned the attack.
Right-wing leader Matteo Salvini, who is making national security the crux of his campaign, expressed outrage over Ogorchukwu’s death, saying “security has no color and … needs to return to being a right.”
— andrea purgatori (@andreapurgatori) July 30, 2022
“My condemnation is not only for the [crime] but it is also for the indifference,” Civitanova Marche’s mayor, Fabrizio Ciarapica, told Sky. ”This is something that has shocked citizens.”
Former prime minister Matteo Renzi singled out political leaders for “instrumentalizing” the attack, claiming he was “horrified by this electoral climate.”
“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.”
Italy’s Unfortunate History Of Racism
Italy has long grappled with issues of race and racism, as its proximity to Africa other Mediterranean countries has made it a hotspot for emigrants looking to make a better life for themselves in the European country.
In 2018, Luca Traini, 31, opened fire on African immigrants in Macerata, wounding six people. Traini was sentenced to 12 years in prison for the shootings, which Italy’s highest court confirmed qualified as a hate crime, per Al Jazeera.
Even in the sport of football, or soccer as it’s known stateside, the country is known for its racism.
There were 58 cases of racial discrimination from August 1, 2019 to March, 1 2020 that affected Italian football and sport in general, according to New Frame.
The issue has become so bad that iI 2020, The New York Times reported that Italian soccer officials unveiled initiatives to fight racism within the sport after a series of incidents in which Black players were racially abused.