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Riccardo Magherini

riccardo magheriniThe incident

Riccardo Magherini, aged 39, died on the night of 2 -3rd March 2014 in Florence. On the evening of 2nd March, Magherini had dined out with some people he knew. Then, in a street called Borgo San Frediano, he became agitated and started dashing around shouting, saying somebody had stolen his wallet and cellphone. He thought he was being followed and went into a pizzeria called “Il Borgo”, a place he went often and where he was known, and took a cellphone off one of the waiters, still shouting. He ran out of the pizzeria, breaking one of the windows on the way, and climbed into a girl's car, but the girl managed to make him get out again. Then he tried to get into another pizzeria, slamming the glass door as he went away. Somebody called the Carabinieri, and when the patrol car arrived they found Magherini on his knees in the street. At first, when the Carabinieri police officers approached him, arms outstretched, he offered no resistance but at a certain point he took fright and ran away. In the meantime a second patrol car had arrived. One Carabinieri officer got in front of Magherini while the other three tried to restrain him. While they were handcuffing him, he hit one of the Carabinieri in the face. In the end, the four of them restrained him, holding him down on the road surface. Magherini was on the ground, bare-chested and face down. He shouted, frightened, but the Carabinieri continued to hold him still. A person from a nearby block of flats filmed the incident with a cellphone, and a number of people at their windows and passers-by witnessed the scene. As well as the film, there are also photos of the body, on which bruises and scratches can be seen, especially on the back.

Records of the 112, 113 and 118 emergency services telephone calls have been made available for the reconstruction of the events of that night. At 1:21 am the Carabinieri officers called the118 emergency ambulance number, saying they had been called to a man “completely out of his mind, bare-chested and shouting”. Evidently the ambulance couldn't find the street because ten minutes later the Carabinieri called 118 again saying they could hear the sirens but that nobody had got there yet and the man still hadn't calmed down. At 1:34 am one of the ambulance volunteers called 118 to say they were on scene and that a man was being restrained by two Carabinieri who were on top of him because he was still agitated; he also asked for a doctor to come and sedate the person on the ground. At 1.44 am a second ambulance arrived with a doctor but by that time the man on the ground was motionless and needed cardiac massage, not sedation. At 2:12 am The doctor called 118 to say that the man that had been restrained by the Carabinieri was in a state of cardiac arrest. The ambulance, with Riccardo on board, then left for the Santa Maria Nuova hospital, arriving there at 2:25 am They continued attempting to resuscitate him for another twenty minutes. At 2:45 am he was pronounced dead.

The trial

Some of the initial news coverage about the death of Magherini included defamatory comments about his character. In a press conference at the Italian Senate, Luigi Manconi, President of the Senate Human Rights Commission and Fabio Anselmo, lawyer not only of the Magherini family but also of the Cucchi, Aldrovandi, Uva and other families, declared that Riccardo had been subject to a “second death”, or rather, a physical death followed by the stigmatisation of the victim. During the conference, films of what happened that night were shown, together with photos of Riccardo's body; Manconi declared his intention to raise the matter in a parliamentary point of order, Anselmo declared that many witnesses had seen Riccardo being kicked repeatedly and referred to a number of disturbing circumstances and Andrea Magherini, Riccardo's brother, launched an appeal to Prime Minister Matteo Renzi. The Public Prosecutor, Luigi Bocciolini, immediately after Riccardo's death opened proceedings for “drug trafficking and death as a consequence of another criminal act”. But Riccardo's family and friends demanded that tests be carried out on his body and, after the funeral, stopped the cremation so that an autopsy could be done. Riccardo's body is still in cold storage to this day. In April 2014, the Florence Public Prosecutor's Office announced that nine people were to be investigated for the death of Riccardo: four Carabinieri police officers on the charge of voluntary manslaughter and five medical personnel on the charge of manslaughter. In May 2014 the two 118 emergency telephone switchboard operators were included in the investigation, charged with complicity in manslaughter. The investigation focuses on the alleged excessive violence used by the Carabinieri in apprehending Magherini and the way he was restrained. According to Riccardo's relatives, he was “restrained with a use of force neither envisaged nor considered in law enforcement restraint techniques, including: tightly gripping the neck with the hands, kicking the sides of the body and the abdomen when the person is already face down on the ground, prolonged pressure by more than one officer on the body and torso when prone on the ground”; furthermore, in the time between immediately before the arrival of the first ambulance and the arrival of the second one, when the medical treatment began, Riccardo was already “totally silent and immobile”. Despite this, the four Carabinieri continued to restrain Riccardo in the same position, exerting pressure on his back. In the report of the experts acting for the Public Prosecutor, the defendants and the Magherini family, the causes of Riccardo's death are described as being "linked to a complex mechanism related to intoxication, heart failure and asphyxia“.

On 9th June 2014 Riccardo Magherini's family filed a complaint against the deliberate misdirection and cover-ups in the investigation. Some witnesses, in fact, claim that their testimonies have not been properly heard and their statements not fully recorded. One witness wrote to the lawyer Fabio Anselmo complaining that the manner of the Carabinieri officers who took her statement was threatening and arrogant and that they had accused her of being immoral because she had agreed to give interviews about the incident instead of going to the police station of her own free will to report it immediately after it had happened. Riccardo's family also note that some of the emergency ambulance 118 call transcripts provided to them by the local health authority were not made available to them by the Public Prosecutor's office. On this, the Director of Amnesty International in Italy, Gianni Rufini, has demanded an answer from the Ministry of the Interior, Alfano, to the questions raised by relatives and witnesses.

A Facebook group has been created by Riccardo's friends that already has thousands of followers and friends, and the Riccardo Magherini Association has been formed for children in sport.

Published: Wednesday, 18 February 2015 18:51

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