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Federico Aldrovandi


Federico Aldrovandi died at dawn on 25th September 2005 in a street in Ferrara. He was just over eighteen. He had spent the evening in nearby Bologna with friends and, after getting back to Ferrara at about 5 in the morning, was in the Ippodromo Street area of the town when he came across a police patrol car, Alpha 3, manned by police officers Enzo Pontani and Luca Pollastri. There was an argument between the boy and the two officers, for reasons still unknown, after which another patrol car, Alpha 2, manned by police officers Paolo Forlani and Monica Segatto, was called to the scene. The only eyewitness who agreed to testify at the trial was Annie Marie Tsague, a Cameroonian woman living in Ippodromo Street, who saw some moments of the encounter from her apartment window. She said she saw all four officers using “sticks” on the boy.

Federico Aldrovandi died of positional asphyxia with superimposed bundle of His haematoma, or rather, he was suffocated because his thorax was compressed by the weight of the police pressing down on his body to restrain him. The autopsy revealed no less than 54 injuries, any single one of which would have been enough to justify criminal proceedings, according to the court of first instance. Death was ascertained at 6:45 am by medical personnel called to the scene, although the Aldrovandi family was not informed until 11 am The episode gained media attention only several months later when Federico's mother, Patrizia Moretti, decided to write a blog about the story of her son's death. This mobilised large numbers of people and, on 19th January, an MP, Titti De Simone, raised the matter in parliament. The then Minister for Parliamentary Relations, Carlo Giovanardi, when giving a version of events to justify the police actions – which was subsequently proved to be completely untrue – introduced a previously unknown detail: two truncheons had been broken on Federico Aldrovandi's body.

The trial

The trial began in 2007. On 6th July 2007 the Court of Ferrara passed a sentence in first instance of 3 years 6 months for the four police offers accused of “manslaughter through excessive use of force”. The sentence also established that the quantity of drugs taken by the youth was too small to have contributed to his death in any way. On 9th October 2010 the civil lawsuit culminated in a settlement agreement with the Ministry of the Interior in which compensation of 2 million euros was awarded to the family in return for dropping the civil action in the rest of the proceedings. Patrizia Moretti underlined the symbolic value of this agreement, by which the state had acknowledged the guilt of its agents. The case was closed on 21st June 2012, after the confirmation of the sentence in the Bologna Court of Appeal. The Court of Cassation confirmed the sentence of 3 years 6 months imprisonment, while the Surveillance Court of Bologna ruled that the six months remaining after the deduction of remission must be actually served in prison, as the four condemned officers had never neither cooperated with the investigation nor shown remorse. Only officer Segatto later had her sentence commuted to house arrest, because of a law known as the “Severino Decree”. On 27th March 2013 the police trade union COISP held a demonstration outside Patrizia Moretti's office to express their solidarity with the condemned officers, for which she subsequently sued them.

Simultaneously, a second trial was taking place, known as “Aldrovandi II”, instigated by the four officers accused of having misled the investigation into Federico's death, in order to protect their colleagues. The proceedings terminated in June 2014 when, because of the expiry of the statute of limitations, the Court of Cassation cancelled the ten-month prison sentence – previously upheld in an appeal court – imposed on police officer Marco Bulgarelli for refusing to perform official duties and aiding and abetting. The eight-month sentence of Marco Pirani for refusing to perform official duties, however, was upheld. Luca Casoni, the only defendant not to have requested a plea bargain, was acquitted in first instance.

Because of statements made during her testimony, Patrizia Moretti had been sued for defamation by Public Prosecutor Mariaemanuela Guerra, before Guerra was appointed to head the inquiry into Federico's death. Moretti was cleared of this accusation in 2013.
The story of Federico Aldrovandi is told in the documentary film “A Boy Has Been Dead” by Filippo Vendemmiati.

Published: Wednesday, 18 February 2015 16:48

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