Rome

Police reports on Cucchi health altered (3)

Trial hears

Police reports on Cucchi health altered (3)

Rome, April 17 - Two Carabinieri notes on the state of health of Stefano Cucchi, a Roman draughtsman who died after an alleged police beating, were modified so as to be potentially false, a trial of five Carabinieri, three of them for manslaughter, heard Tuesday. The Carabinieri who wrote the two notes, Gianluca Colicchio and Francesco Di Sano, declined to fully accept their content under questioning Tuesday. On March 20 a witness in the trial told the court that Cucchi told him in detention that the cops had "enjoyed themselves with him". Luigi Laina' said he spoke to Cucchi at the medical centre in Rome's Regina Coeli Prison on the night of October 16-17 2009, a few days after Cucchi was picked up on minor drugs charges. "Stefano told me that the Carabinieri 'enjoyed themselves' with him. He was so swollen he looked like bag-pipes, he should not have been taken to jail in that condition," said Laina'. "He was in bad shape, he was puffy, he had bruises on his face and cheekbones, he was purple, he was losing blood from an ear," Laina' went on. "I brought him a coffee but he didn't even manage to swallow. When I saw his back it was a purple skeleton: he looked like a beaten dog, stuff you wouldn't even see at Auschwitz. I have never seen an inmate taken to a cell in that condition. "Stefano told me two plain-clothes Carabinieri beat him in the first barracks he was taken to...they wanted to make him talk, they wanted to know where the drugs had come from but he didn't talk, he didn't want to be a snitch." Cucchi's sister Ilaria, who has been campaigning tirelessly for justice for her brother, said "the witness Laina''s account is dramatic from an emotional standpoint, I see again my brother's character and his way of being and above all his suffering, which was hidden for so many years. "For years they spoke of slight injuries, but he was seriously ill, and that pain increased hour after hour until he died. "It was all abstract in all these years, it seemed as if my brother had died without a reason. From today we have started to understand what actually happened". The trial of the five Carabinieri started on October 13. Cucchi died in a custodial hospital wing on the night between October 22 and 23, 2009, a week after being picked up on the drugs rap. His body showed signs he had sustained a brutal beating at some point during his detention, and an autopsy revealed he was severely dehydrated, had two broken vertebrae and internal organ damage. Cucchi's parents said he was in perfectly good health the day he was arrested, but appeared at a court hearing the next day with black eyes and his face covered with bruises. Ilaria Cucchi said "now the moment of truth has arrived". A new witness said last year that Cucchi "couldn't stand up" in his cell after his alleged beating. On July 10 a Rome judge indicted the five Carabinieri police over Cucchi's death in a custodial wing of a Rome hospital. Three of the Carabinieri are accused of involuntary manslaughter. They allegedly beat the young draughtsman after his arrest on October 15, 2009. The other two are accused of calumny and making false declarations. Cucchi's sister Ilaria hailed the indictments, saying "finally those responsible for the death of my brother, the same people who for eight years his behind their uniforms, will go to trial and will be called to answer for what they did".

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