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Police in Italy arrested an Italian man in the slaying of a Nigerian vendor whose brutal beating death on a busy beach town thoroughfare was filmed by onlookers without any apparent attempt to intervene physically.
Video footage of the attack has circulated widely on Italian news websites and social media platforms, eliciting outrage as Italy enters a parliamentary election campaign in which the right-wing coalition has already made immigration an issue.
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“The murder of Alika Ogorchukwu is dismaying,’’ Enrico Letta, the head of the left-wing Democratic Party, wrote on Twitter, naming the vendor who died Friday. “Unheard of ferocity. Widespread indifference. There can be no justification.”
Ogorchukwu, 39, was selling goods midday Friday on the main street of Civitanova Marche, a beach town on the Adriatic Sea coast, when the aggressor grabbed a crutch the vendor used to walk and struck him down, according to police.
Video shows the assailant then wrestling the victim to the pavement as the victim fought back, eventually subduing Ogorchukwu with the weight of his body.
Police chief Matteo Luconi told Italian news channel Sky TG24 that onlookers called police, who responded to the scene after a suspect had fled and attempted to administer aid to the victim. It was not clear if he died at the scene.
Police used street cameras to track the assailant’s movements and detained a man identified as Filippo Claudio Giuseppe Ferlazzo, 32.
Ferlazzo was being held on suspicion of murder and theft, the latter for allegedly taking the victim’s phone when he fled.
Luconi told Sky TG24 the assailant lashed out after the vendor made “insistent” requests for pocket change. Police were questioning witnesses and have taken into evidence videos of the attack. They said the suspect has made no statements.
Ogorchukwu, who was married with two children, resorted to selling goods on the street after he was struck by a car and lost his job as a laborer due to the injuries he suffered, said Daniel Amanza, who runs the ACSIM association for immigrants in the Marche region’s Macerata province.
The accident left him with a limp, and needing crutches, Amanza said.
Amanza gave a different version of what had preceded the assault, saying the aggressor became infuriated when Ogorchukwu told the man’s companion she was beautiful.
“This compliment killed him,’’ Amanza told The Associated Press.
“The tragic fact is that there were many people nearby. They filmed, saying ‘Stop,’ but no one moved to separate them,’’ Amanza said.
Macerata was the site of a 2018 shooting spree targeting African immigrants that injured six. Luca Traini, 31, was sentenced to 12 years in prison for the shootings, which Italy’s highest court confirmed qualified as a hate crime.