Italian prosecutor seeks life for US men charged with murder

ROME (AP) — An Italian prosecutor on Saturday requested life in prison for two young American men charged with slaying an Italian police officer in central Rome.

Prosecutor Maria Sabina Calabretta asked the court to find the two defendants — Finnegan Lee Elder, 21, and Gabriel Natale-Hjorth, 20 — guilty and to impose Italy’s maximum sentence for the death of Vice Brigadier Mario Cerciello Rega. Calabretta called the July 26, 2019, stabbing of the officer “disproportionate and deadly”.

The defence is scheduled to make its closing arguments beginning March 18, before the court decides the verdict and sentence.

A lawyer for Elder said he was not surprised the prosecutor requested life sentences.

“Unfortunately, we didn’t expect anything different, given the anomalies we have seen in the course of this investigation directed at portraying facts in a different way from the way they evolved,” defence lawyer Renato Borzone said.

The two Americans were on vacation in Rome when they were confronted by a pair of plainclothes Carabinieri officers at what the vacationers believed was going to be a meeting with the go-between in an illegal deal that had gone bad.