Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Italy’s simmering anti-immigrant sentiment has been stoked by the murder of an elderly couple in their home in Sicily by an African asylum seeker

Mamadou Kamara, an 18-year-old black African immigrant from the Ivory Coast, slit the throat of Vincenzo Solano, 68, and then attacked his Spanish-born wife, Mercedes Ibanez, 70. Ibanez fell to her death from a second-floor balcony, during a robbery that turned violent. Kamara is one of thousands of migrants and refugees living at a vast reception center at nearby Mineo, in south-eastern Sicily. They are accommodated there after arriving by boat from Libya, and wait sometimes for months to have their asylum applications assessed. The migrants are allowed to come and go freely from the facility, a former US military base where prostitution, links with organised crime and the trade in illicit goods is said to be rife. Kamara, who was rescued in the Mediterranean on June 8, 2015 and brought with other migrants to the port of Catania in Sicily, broke into the pensioners’ flat in the village of Palagonia, six miles away, and slit the throat of Solano. The elderly man’s wife was found dead in the courtyard of their three-story apartment block. Investigators believe that she may have fallen over the balcony in panic after trying to flee the black African attacker. Kamara was arrested after police searched his bag as he returned to the migrant center. Inside they found a mobile telephone, a laptop computer, a video camera and a pair of trousers, belonging to Solano, that were covered in blood. The young African man claimed to have “found” the items, but police arrested him and are expected to charge him with two counts of murder. Forensic police worked into the early hours gathering evidence at the elderly couple's flat. The trousers were identified as belonging to Solano by one of his daughters, who was contacted by police. The pensioner had retired back to his native Sicily a decade ago after working for years in a Mercedes car factory in Germany. Detectives believe that other migrants may have been involved in the burglary. More than 100,000 refugees have arrived by boat in Italy in 2015, making the crossing from Libya in overcrowded rubber dinghies and leaky fishing boats. In 2014, a record 170,000 arrived on Italian shores.

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