Italians ask if the killing of immigrants could have been stopped

ROME – Italians debated Sunday whether a Nigerian street vendor could have been saved from a fatal attack by an enraged Italian that played out in public as bystanders watched. The mourners left flowers and posters denouncing the violence and indifference of others.

On Friday, as prams walked along a busy shopping street in Civitanova Marche, an Italian city on the Adriatic Sea, 39-year-old Alika Ogorchukwu was left for dead after being first hit with his own crutch and then viciously punched by the suspect.

“Four minutes of horror,” Corriere della Sera headlined, noting that other Nigerian immigrants in the city condemned the indifference and racism seen in the killing.

Videos of the attack circulated on Italian news websites and social media.

A judge on Monday will rule whether the alleged attacker, identified by police as Filippo Claudio Giuseppe Ferlazzo, 32, should remain in jail pending the investigation.


Police investigator Matteo Luconi told reporters on Saturday that the assailant chased the vendor after Ogorchukwu’s “insistent” demands on the suspect and his female companion for pocket change. The slain man’s lawyer said he was attacked after complimenting the woman’s beauty.

An autopsy will help determine whether Ogorchukwu died from the beating or was possibly strangled while lying on his back with his attacker on top of him, punching him.

Ogorchukwu often sold packets of tissues or lighters to customers, local shopkeepers said.

On a popular talk show on Italian state radio on Sunday, listeners called in to decry the indifference of at least two bystanders who filmed the event and the fear caused by the attack.

One listener recalled a young man beaten to death by a gang of Italian youths near Rome in 2020 when he tried to protect a friend and break up a fight. A court recently convicted four Italians, sentencing two of them to life imprisonment for the murder of Willy Monteiro Duarte, a chef whose family originated from Cape Verde.


On Sunday, people stopped at the spot where Ogorchukwu died, leaving flowers and tying posters to a tree, including one denouncing “violence, racism, indifference”.

Some radio listeners were outraged that two bystanders filmed the attack on their phones and apparently no one tried to pull the suspect away from his victim. Police said some called to report an attack in progress, but when help arrived, Ogorchukwu was dead.

One caller asked the host what he would do if he were there.

“I would kick him,” replied Mario Secchi, director of the Italian news agency AGI.

The attack comes as Italian politicians begin campaigning for early parliamentary elections on September 25. The anti-immigrant leader of the right-wing League party, Matteo Salvini, has made immigration as well as protecting citizens from violent crime his top issues.

On Sunday, Salvini said in a tweet that his centre-left opponents were using the Nigerian’s death to “accuse me, the League and millions of Italians of racism. Miserable.”


Archbishop Rocco Penacchio, whose diocese includes Civitanova Marche, decided that instead of sermons, a few minutes of silence would be held at Sunday’s mass.

The mayor of nearby San Severino Marche, where Ogorchukwu lives with his wife, son and niece, said the city would pay for the funeral. Italian media said local citizens had also started raising funds to help his widow.


This story has been corrected to show that the killing took place on Friday.

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Italians ask if the killing of immigrants could have been stopped

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