Rome

Top court quashes Cucchi doctor acquittals (2)

Five doctors at Pertini Hospital cleared

Top court quashes Cucchi doctor acquittals (2)

Rome, April 20 - Italy's supreme Cassation Court on Wednesday night quashed the acquittals of five doctors at Rome's Pertini Hospital in the culpable manslaughter of Stefano Cucchi, a draughtsman arrested on minor drug charges who died in the custody in the hospital in October 2009. But the case times out under Italy's statute of limitations today and compensatory damages are at risk. However, Cucchi's sister Ilaria, who has campaigned tirelessly for justice in the case, said the verdict was "a sing of hope". The ruling came at the request of assistant prosecutor-general Antonio Mura who criticised the second appeals trial for "evading the Cassation's mandate" and not ordering new tests. He said that the case was "on the eve of timing out" but he still asked the annulment of the acquittals so as to "save" the compensatory damage claims. The five Pertini doctors were acquitted of manslaughter charges last year over Cucchi's death after the Cassation Court had ordered a fresh appeals trial against them. In February three Carabinieri officers accused of involuntary manslaughter over Cucchi's death were suspended. Rome prosecutors have requested that the three be sent to trial along with two other Carabinieri accused of calumny and making false declarations. The three allegedly beat the young draughtsman after his arrest on October 15, 2009. Cucchi died in a custodial wing of the Pertini Hospital on October 22, 2009, a week after he was picked up on minor drug charges. The Cucchi case has caused widespread public dismay after several trials springing from an initial investigation failed to find any culprits, even though Cucchi's body showed signs of him being the victim of brutality. The Carabinieri police who arrested Cucchi struck him with "slaps, punches and kicks" prosecutors wrote in a notification that they had concluded an investigation into the case. The blows caused a "bad fall with an impact on the ground in the rear area" which, "combined with the negligent conduct of the health personnel treating Cucchi at the Sandro Pertini hospital (in Rome), led to his death".

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