An Italian man has been arrested on suspicion of murdering a Nigerian street seller, whose fatal beating in broad daylight was reportedly filmed by onlookers sparking outrage and protests from Italy’s African communities.
Alika Ogorchukwu, 39, was killed in the centre of Civitanova Marche on Friday afternoon.
Filippo Claudio Giuseppe Ferlazzo, 32, from Salerno in the Campania region has been arrested on charges of murder and allegedly stealing Mr Ogorchukwu’s mobile phone.
According to Italian media reports, the alleged attacker responded violently when Mr Ogorchukwu said to his girlfriend: “Bella, can you buy some handkerchiefs or give me one euro.” The man is alleged to have grabbed a crutch the vendor used to walk and struck him down, according to police.
Italians debated on Sunday whether he could have been saved from the fatal attack that played out in public as bystanders watched. Mourners left flowers and placards denouncing the violence and the indifference of those nearby.
“Four-minute long horror,” headlined Corriere della Sera, noting that other Nigerian immigrants in the town had decried the indifference and racism seen in the killing.
Video footage of the attack has circulated on Italian news websites and social media.
A judge on Monday will rule if the alleged attacker should remain jailed during the investigation.
Police investigator Matteo Luconi told reporters on Saturday that the assailant went after the vendor following “insistent” requests by Mr Ogorchukwu to the suspect and his female companion for change. The slain man’s lawyer said he was attacked after complimenting the woman.
An autopsy will help determine if Mr Ogorchukwu died from the beating or possibly was strangled as he lay on his back, his attacker on top of him and striking him.
Mr Ogorchukwu frequently peddled packets of tissues or cigarette lighters to customers, local shopkeepers said.
During a popular talk show on Italian state radio Sunday, listeners called in to decry the indifference of at least two bystanders who filmed the event and the fear the attack generated.
One listener recalled a young man beaten to death by a gang of Italian youths near Rome in 2020 when he tried to defend a friend and subdue a fight. A court recently convicted four Italians, sentencing two of them to life in prison, for the killing of Willy Monteiro Duarte, a cook whose family originated from Cape Verde.
On Sunday, people paused at the spot where Mr Ogorchukwu died, leaving flowers and tying placards to a tree, including one denouncing “violence, racism, indifference.”
Some radio listeners were indignant that two bystanders used their phones to film the attack and no one apparently tried to pull the suspect off his victim. The police said some did call to report an attack in progress, but by the time help arrived, Mr Ogorchukwu was dead.
One caller asked the host what would he have done if he were there.
“I would have kicked him,” replied Mario Sechi, director of the Italian news agency AGI.
The attack comes as Italian politicians begin campaigning for an early parliamentary election on 25 September. The anti-migrant head of the right-wing League party, Matteo Salvini, has made immigration as well as protecting citizens from violent crime his top issues.
On Sunday, Mr Salvini in a tweet contended that his center-left opponents were exploiting the Nigerian’s death to “accuse me, the League and millions of Italians of racism. Squalid.”