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Marymount - International School Rome

Chico Forti returns to Italy after 24 years in US jail

Forti welcomed back to Italy by premier Giorgia Meloni.

Enrico 'Chico' Forti, an Italian entrepreneur who has spent the last 24 years in a US jail after being convicted of killing an Australian businessman in 1998, returned to Italy on Saturday morning.

Forti, 65, landed at Pratica di Mare air base south-west of Rome on an Italian military plane, where he was met by Italian premier Giorgia Meloni.

Forti will be transferred to a prison in Verona but before that will be held overnight at Rebibbia prison in Rome due to organisational reasons linked to today's visit to Verona by Pope Francis, reports Corriere della Sera newspaper.

The repatriation of Forti, who has been detained by the US immigration agency since leaving prison in Miami a few days ago, follows extensive diplomatic efforts by the Italian government and the personal intervention of Meloni.

Forti, a former windsurfing champion and TV producer who has always maintained his innocence, was sentenced to life imprisonment in Florida in 2000 for the murder of Dale Pike on 15 February 1998.

During a visit to Washington on 1 March this year, Meloni announced that an agreement had been reached for Forti to return from the US to serve the rest of his term in his homeland.

Justice minister Carlo Nordio subsequently said that Forti's return to Italy was "an important, long-awaited goal", expressing the hope that all necessary steps would be "completed as quickly as possible to allow Forti to continue serving his sentence in his country, close to his loved ones".

Forti's case is a divisive one, with Forti and his supporters having always maintained that he is a victim of a miscarriage of justice.

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