New Trial Begins for Americans Accused of Killing Italian Police Officer

New Trial Begins for Americans Accused of Killing Italian Police Officer

Italy, Europe, news,Finnegan Lee Elder, Gabriel Natale-Hjorth, Italian police officer killing, American men trial Rome, Carabinieri, Brig Mario

A new trial has commenced for two American men accused of killing an Italian plainclothes police officer during a failed sting operation in Rome. The highest court of cassation in Italy had previously overturned their convictions, leading to the new trial.

Finnegan Lee Elder, 24, and Gabriel Natale-Hjorth, 23, who were teenagers at the time of the incident, sat side by side as the appeal court judge delivered opening remarks for the new trial. Both individuals are currently held in separate prisons near Rome.

The friends, originally from California, were initially found guilty of murdering Carabinieri V-Brig Mario Cerciello Rega and were sentenced to life in prison. However, their sentences were later reduced on appeal. Prosecutors alleged that Elder stabbed Cerciello Rega 11 times during the encounter, with Natale-Hjorth assisting in hiding the knife in their hotel room.

The incident occurred when the two friends arranged to meet a supposed drug dealer to recover money and return a stolen backpack. Unbeknownst to them, the person they met turned out to be a police informant, and they were confronted by the officers. The cassation court's decision indicated that it was not proven beyond reasonable doubt that the defendants, with limited Italian language skills, understood they were dealing with Italian police officers during the encounter.

The lawyers for the defendants believe that the court's decision changes the evaluation of the incident and will impact the punishment. The trial is expected to continue with hearings scheduled for April and May, with the anticipation of concluding before summer.

The killing of Carabinieri officer Cerciello Rega deeply shocked the Italian public, who mourned him as a national hero. The family's lawyer has expressed the desire for clarity regarding the defendants' responsibilities and emphasizes that there are no vengeful intentions but a pursuit of justice.

News Agencies

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