Death of Willy Monteiro Duarte has caused outrage in Italy.
Four men in their 20s have been arrested on charges of manslaughter in the beating to death of a 21-year-old Cape Verdian-Italian man in Colleferro, a town south of Rome, in the early hours of 6 September, reports Italian news agency ANSA.
Willy Monteiro Duarte died after being beaten with kicks and punches in a brutal assault by the four alleged assailants from the nearby town of Artena, after he had attempted to save his friend from being beaten.
Who are the four arrested?
The four, currently in Rome's Rebibbia prison, have been named as brothers and mixed martial arts practitioners Gabriele and Marco Bianchi, aged 26 and 24; Francesco Belleggia, 23; and Mario Pincarelli, 22.
Already known to police and feared in their home town for their propensity for violence, they have been described as the "Banda di Artena" by Rome newspaper Il Messaggero.
One of Duarte's friends, who identified himself as Alessandro, told ANSA: "Everyone knew those two brothers, they've been fighting and beating people in the same way for two years, they've committed other beatings."
Prosecutors are also investigating a possible racial element to the attack, reports ANSA. The four will be interrogated today, while an autopsy will be carried out on Duarte's body tomorrow, 9 September.
The beating took place at around 01.00 on 6 September in the centre of Colleferro, however there were no security cameras in the area. There are also varying accounts of the attack whose dynamics are still under investigation.
According to initial reports, Duarte had noticed his friend being threatened by another man and immediately stepped in between the two in an attempt to diffuse the situation.
However the aggressor made a phone call for "backup" and within minutes a black Audi Q7 pulled up and the aggressor's three friends got out and beat Willy "until he stopped breathing" according to Italian newspaper La Repubblica.
The attackers allegedly fled the scene in the SUV driven by a fifth member of the gang, currently being questioned, according to Italian newspaper Il Fatto Quotidiano.
A local woman who witnessed the attack told La Repubblica: "I will never forget the screams of that young boy. He said "enough, please, enough, I can't breathe anymore." Poor creature. Those were devils, not human beings."
Who was Willy Monteiro Duarte?
Duarte, the son of a Cape Verdean couple who moved to Paliano many years ago and worked on a local farm, had grown up in the small town in the province of Frosinone.
He had only recently become an Italian citizen and was "perfectly integrated in the country," according to the Italian bishops' newspaper Avvenire. He attended the hotel school in Fiuggi and worked as an assistant cook at the Hotel degli Amici di Artena. He played in the local football team and was a big fan of AS Roma, which tweeted:
"Willy Monteiro Duarte dreamed of one day pulling on the Giallorossi shirt of his beloved #ASRoma. That dream ended last night, in the most tragic and brutal of circumstances. Our thoughts are now with Willy’s family and friends. Rest In Peace, Romanista."
Reaction to the attack
The attack has been condemned by politicians across the spectrum and caused widespread disgust in Italy. On 7 September a day of mourning was declared in Colleferro as well as in Paliano, the nearby town where Duarte lived.
Lazio governor Nicola Zingaretti commented on Facebook: "Willy wanted to be a cook, today his mother tells us about it. We all mourn this generous young man, along with his friends and family. We will name a hotel institute in Lazio after Willy. For him, for his altruism, in his memory against violence."
Zingaretti added: “The Lazio Region undertakes to pay the legal fees in the proceedings for Willy's death. We will not leave the family on their own."
The hotel where Duarte worked has also launched a fundraising campaign to assist Duarte's family financially.
"Willy deserves justice"
Italy's foreign affairs minister Luigi Di Maio posted: "You can't die like that. At 21, killed by a bunch of thugs, beaten with kicks and punches. It's not possible. Willy deserves justice and whoever killed him must pay an exemplary punishment."
Meanwhile the four under arrest have been subject to a torrent of insults and hatred on social media by people outraged over Duarte's death, leading to the hashtag #vigliacchi (cowards) trending in Italy.
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