VOLUME 28 NO. 7 | FEBRUARY 7 - 13, 2009

Indian immigrant set on fire in Italy

Last updated 2-5-09 at 1:40 p.m.

ROME (AP) — Italian police have arrested three young men for allegedly beating and setting on fire an Indian immigrant who was sleeping on a train station bench in a seaside town near Rome, investigators said Feb. 2.
The attack on the 35-year-old man in Nettuno sparked outrage in Italy and fueled a debate on attitudes toward immigrants.

Carabinieri paramilitary police said the three poured gasoline on the man early Feb. 1, and then set him on fire.
The man suffered severe burns on more than 40 percent of his body, said Dr. Paolo Palombo, an official of Sant’ Eugenio hospital in Rome, where the immigrant was taken for treatment. Palombo told SKY TG24 TV that the patient would undergo skin grafts on Feb. 6 to help fight the danger of infection.

The mood among some citizens has turned ugly in recent years following the arrest of immigrants as suspects in several high-profile crimes, including the slaying of an Italian admiral’s wife in suburban Rome and the rape of a young Italian woman in the countryside near Rome.

In a statement, Italian President Giorgio Napolitano warned against “any display and risk of xenophobia, racism and violence.”

Police said the suspects in the Nettuno attack are ages 16, 19, and 29. Investigators said the suspects apparently had been using drugs and alcohol.

Premier Silvio Berlusconi’s conservative government has been cracking down on illegal immigration in Italy, which surveys show many citizens link to crime.

His top security official, Interior Minister Roberto Maroni, told reporters that the Nettuno violence “isn’t a racist attack. It’s something worse.” He added that there are a lack of fundamental values in society. (end)


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