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Home a buon diritto


Massimo Casalnuovo

Massimo CasalnuovoThe incident

Massimo Casalnuovo, aged 22, died on 20th August 2011 while driving through the streets of Buonabitacolo, a village near Salerno in southern Italy, on his scooter. He was on his way home at about 8:30 in the evening, after repairing his scooter in the garage where he worked.

In the village's main street, Via Grancia, two Carabinieri police officers were manning a “flying checkpoint” – some local residents had complained to the local council about noisy, possibly modified scooters and demanded more roadside checks. The Carabinieri were actually in a lay-by immediately after a bend with the flashing lights on their patrol car switched off and were thus not very visible.

The two Carabinieri police officers heard Massimo Casalnuovo's scooter approaching and one of them went to the middle of the road immediately after the bend with his hand-held stop sign, with the intention of flagging down the scooter. Massimo, who wasn't wearing a crash helmet, came round the bend and drove straight past the officer – perhaps to avoid being stopped, or perhaps to avoid running the person who had suddenly appeared in front of him over. The other Carabinieri, Maresciallo G.C., was writing out a confiscation report for a scooter belonging to two boys who had just been stopped for riding without a crash helmet. As soon as he saw Massimo drive past his colleague, he ran after him and, a few yards further on, Massimo fell off the scooter, banged his chest against a low wall and was killed.

According to G.C.'s statement, he had chased after Massimo's scooter in order to read the license plate, but Massimo had almost run him over – or had actually tried to run him over – and had lost control of the vehicle. This version, however, is contradicted by eyewitness statements, especially that of Elia Marchesano, one of the two boys stopped by the Carabinieri immediately before the arrival of Massimo Casalnuovo. Marchesano, in fact, stated that he had distinctly seen Maresciallo G.C. kick out at Massimo's scooter – after which he had lost control of the vehicle – thus causing the boy's death.

The trial

On this basis, legal proceedings began in which G.C. was charged with voluntary manslaughter and aggravated damages. On 5th July 2013, the Maresciallo was acquitted in first instance because of insufficient evidence. The Judge, Enrichetta Cioffi, deemed Marchesano's account not credible in that, in her opinion, the boy had been induced by his father to falsely accuse G.C. immediately before testifying. In fact, another Carabinieri officer, a Brigadiere who arrived on the scene, had noted in his log that Marchesano's father was prompting his son with the words “now listen, make sure you tell it how it happened, that the Maresciallo gave a kick to the scooter”.

In the appeal against the acquittal, the civil party lawyer pointed out that Marchesano's account was corroborated by the testimony of another witness, Vincenzo Rinaldi, a local resident. When Rinaldi arrived on the scene, immediately after the incident, Massimo Casalnuovo was on the ground and Marchesano was saying repeatedly “he did it, he did it”, referring to G.C. Also, both Marchesano and Emilio Risi, the other youth stopped by the Carabinieri, testified that they clearly heard the sound of the plastic fairing on the scooter breaking just before the vehicle hit the wall – exactly when the Maresciallo purportedly kicked it. The lawyer also pointed out that micro traces of material from the scooter found on the sole of the Maresciallo's right shoe could only have come from direct contact with the vehicle body. G.C., in fact, according to the reconstruction based on the testimonies, had not walked in the area where the vehicle skidded. Moreover, the hypothesis of the kick is also borne out by a mark, probably made by rubber, that was found on the scooter, as noted in the report of the traffic police called to the scene of the incident.

Massimo's family, as they wait for the appeal to be heard, have created a Website There is also a documentary “Mi chiamo Massimo e chiedo giustizia” (“My Name Is Massimo and I Ask for Justice”), made by Dario Tepedino and Elisa Ravaglia.

Published: Wednesday, 18 February 2015 18:42

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