U.S. tourists granted retrial in Italian cop killing

Italy’s highest appeal court has ordered a retrial for two U.S. men convicted of killing a police officer in Rome while on holiday, in a case that scandalised the country.

In a verdict late Wednesday, the Court of Cassation in Rome overturned the sentences handed down to Finnegan Elder, 23, and Gabriel Natale-Hjorth, 22, and granted both a new appeal.

The pair had been sentenced to life in prison in May 2021 for stabbing to death policeman Mario Cerciello Rega while they were teenagers in drugs’ bust gone wrong two years earlier in Rome.

An appeal court in March 2022 reduced their sentences by giving 24 years prison time to Elder, who wielded the weapon, and 22 years to Natale-Hjorth, who helped hide the weapon after the attack. Prosecutors said his actions earlier in the evening led to the murder.

“We are satisfied with the annulment of the sentence,” said Roberto Capra, the lawyer for Elder, whose new appeal is expected to consider aggravating circumstances.

“There will be a new trial on the heart of the matter — whether the carabinieri (police) identified themselves as members of law enforcement,” he added, saying this raised the potential of a new, lower sentence being imposed.

The encounter between the two teenagers and the police officer and his partner on a dark Rome street lasted just 30 seconds.

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