Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Cop's killing of fan might have been intentional??

ROME - The police officer who fatally shot an Italian soccer fan last weekend fired with his arm outstretched — suggesting that the gun did not discharge accidentally as initial reports indicated, Italy’s interior minister said Tuesday.

In a briefing to Parliament, Interior Minister Giuliano Amato also announced another dozen arrests stemming from the riots that erupted across Italy as fans attacked police stations after the officer fatally shot 26-year-old Gabriele Sandri on Sunday.

Sandri, a disc jockey from Rome, was sitting in a car stopped at a highway rest area near Arezzo in Tuscany when he was shot in the neck. Initial reports said police had intervened to stop a scuffle between Sandri’s group of Lazio fans — headed to see their club play at Inter Milan — and a group of Juventus fans, also traveling north to see their team play.

Reports initially said police fired warning shots into the air, and that “it was possible that firing in the air while (the officer) ran, a second shot came out while his arm was down because he was running,” Amato said.

But “now it seems definitively established that the shot came with his arms outstretched from the other side of the highway,” he said. “It remains to be understood why.”

Amato said the officer should have put his pistol back in his holster after the first warning shot.

The officer has been placed under investigation for possible manslaughter.

Sandri’s death forced the postponement of two matches last Sunday and the suspension of another as clashes erupted in cities including Milan and Bergamo.
Enraged by the shooting, rioters smashed windows and hurled stones at police cars. In the capital, fans rioted into the night, setting trash bins and police vans on fire.

Amato said a total of four people had been arrested in Rome, five people in Taranto, six in Milan and seven in Bergamo — and that more arrests were expected. He noted that prosecutors in Rome were considering terrorism charges against the four Roman suspects.

Amato said the fans’ violent response to the shooting showed they were just looking for an excuse to attack police, still enraged by security measures imposed following the February death of policeman Filippo Raciti during soccer violence in Sicily.

“Now there’s a new reason for a vendetta, for hatred against the police,” he said.

Amato confirmed that the reports of a fan scuffle at the rest stop had reached the Arezzo police station, but that it wasn’t clear if the patrols at the scene had been informed of the fight.

Reports on Monday suggested the shooting might not been prompted by a fan scuffle at all.
It’s also possible that the patrols acted before receiving the news,” Amato said. “We don’t know, I confess, if the young police officer who fired knew that there was a fight between fans, or perhaps he was thinking about something else.”

Amato defended the measures taken by police in the aftermath of the shooting, saying their restraint avoided a “true massacre.” He also said the decision to allow most games to continue as scheduled following the shooting was correct since a flat-out cancellation of all Sunday matches would have provoked even more serious fan violence.

On Monday, the soccer federation said it would suspend this Saturday’s games.

A national watchdog body for soccer violence also announced that some fans would be blocked from traveling to certain games. The agency labels games by risk level, and visiting fans will be barred from traveling to high-risk matches until a system of fan identity cards can be instituted, it said.

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