Authorities in Italy confirmed an American man accused of killing a Rome police officer had been blindfolded during an interrogation last week.
According to ABC News, 18-year-old Gabriel Christian Natale-Hjorth and 19-year-old Finnegan Lee Elder, both of California, were arrested on suspicion of stabbing 35-year-old Carabinieri Paramilitary Police Deputy Brigadier Mario Cerciello Rega multiple times in an attack near the hotel where the suspects had been staying.
Rome Provincial Cmdr. Francesco Gargaro revealed that officers placed a blindfold over Natale-Hjorth’s eyes “for a very few minutes, four or five,” as they questioned him on Friday.
The confirmation came after news reports included an image of the man with a cloth over his eyes. Police say he was initially transported to the police station in handcuffs and was interviewed without a lawyer present, as is the norm in Italy for individuals not formally declared a criminal suspect.
#Fairness questa foto scattata il 26 luglio in un ufficio del Reparto investigativo dei carabinieri a Roma riprende Gabriel Christian Natale Hjorth, 18 anni, americano, sospettato dell'omicidio di un carabiniere. Chi l'ha scattata e divulgata ha commesso un reato. pic.twitter.com/rdZpjplBLu
— AgenforInternational 🇪🇺 (@agenfor) July 28, 2019
He went on to confirm that such interrogation methods are strictly “illegal” and “not allowed” within the Italian police force.
Despite the officer’s “mistake,” Garago said it was done in an effort to prevent the teens suspect from seeing sensitive documents from the probe into Rega’s death.
Local officials have spoken out to condemn the violent killing of the newlywed officer.
“Who ever killed him in an animal,” said Somma Vesuviana Mayor Salvatore Di Sarno.
Investigators allege that Rega and another plainclothes officer approached the two suspects in response to a report of a drug deal, leading to the deadly altercation.
The other officer received minor injuries, allegedly when Natale-Hjorth punched him repeatedly, as reported by KGO.
Both suspects reportedly admitted to participating in the fatal attack and could both face charges including murder.
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[Featured image: AP Photo/Paolo Santalucia]