National hero: Italy's president honours Willy with gold medal for bravery

Italian president confers posthumous awards on Willy Monteiro Duarte and Don Roberto Malgesini.

Italy's president Sergio Mattarella has conferred posthumously the gold medal for civil valour on Willy Monteiro Duarte, the 21-year-old Cape Verdian-Italian man beaten to death by a gang near Rome on 6 September after intervening to help his friend.

The posthumous recognition was for showing "exceptional selfless fervour and extraordinary determination" in defence of a friend in difficulty, in an attempt to "favour a peaceful solution to a heated discussion."

The president's statement noted that Willy was the victim of "unprecedented violence" and was subjected to a beating "even when he fell unconscious, until he tragically lost his life."

President Mattarella hailed Willy as a "shining example, also for younger generations, of generosity, altruism, bravery and uncommon civic sense, pushed to the ultimate sacrifice."

Don Roberto Malgesini

The president also conferred a posthumous gold medal of civil merit to the memory of Fr Roberto Malgesini, a 51-year-old Italian priest stabbed to death by a homeless man in the northern city of Como on 15 September.

President Mattarella remembered Don Roberto as a pastor who worked hard "with generous and tireless self-denial," offering a loving welcome and constant support to those most in need.