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Aldo Bianzino

aldo bianzinoThe incident

Aldo Bianzino, a 44-year-old carpenter, died on 14th October 2007 in Capanne District Prison, Perugia, where he was being detained because some cannabis plants had been found in his home.

Two days earlier, on the 12th of October, Bianzino was in his home, a farmhouse in Pietralunga (near Città di Castello in the Province of Perugia), with his son Rudra, aged 14, his girlfriend Roberta Radici and her mother Sabina, when five police officers knocked at the door. The police officers, who had a search warrant signed by Public Prosecutor Petrazzini, searched the farmhouse for hours until they found some marijuana plants. Despite Bianzino saying that his girlfriend had nothing to do with the plants and that he had grown them for his own personal use, both he and Roberta were taken to the Città di Castello police station, then to the Perugia police headquarters and finally to Capanne District Prison, where he was put in solitary confinement and she in the female wing. The routine medical examination found them both to be in good physical condition.

On 13th October the court-appointed lawyer interviewed Aldo Bianzino, whom he found to be in a good state of health, and then Roberta Radici. Shortly before this, Bianzino had been taken to the prison officers' main office in the prison, although the reasons for this are not known to this day. According to the testimony of a detainee, Bianzino was made to leave his cell another two times that afternoon. It is known for certain that he was taken to the infirmary. The word “examination” was entered in his medical record, without any further details.
On the morning of 14th October, at about 7 am, a detainee doing the cleaning caught sight of Bianzino, half-naked and lifeless on his bed (testimonies vary as to the position he was in when found). The window in the room was wide open, even though it was almost winter. It wasn't until an hour later that the guards realised what a seriousness condition he was in. Bianzino was then taken to the infirmary, but it was closed and so he was laid on the floor, where two doctors carried out cardiac massage to try and resuscitate him, but to no avail. At 8.30 am He was certified dead.

In the meantime, Roberta Radici was spoken to by a deputy chief inspector, who tried to get her to admit that Bianzino had a previous illness of some kind, which she completely refused to do. Two hours later Radici was released and informed that within two days an autopsy would be performed on Aldo – and it was with these words that she learnt of the death of her boyfriend.

The trial

The case on Aldo's death was opened by Public Prosecutor Petrazzini – the very person that had signed the warrant for searching Bianzino's home. The first autopsy found injuries to the liver, spleen and brain and two broken ribs. Dr. Patumi, the forensic pathologist engaged by the family, asserted that the injuries were caused by “blows clearly given to kill”, which “aim to destroy the vital organs without leaving any external signs”. The second autopsy, however, gave the cause of death as a cerebral aneurysm.

And so an investigation began against persons unknown for voluntary manslaughter. It can be seen from the prison CCTV footage that, on the night of 13-14th October no medical aid was given to Bianzino, even though, according to the detainees questioned by the Public Prosecutor, he had continually asked for help. On the basis of this, the prison officer on night shift that night was included in the investigation for failing to provide medical treatment and neglecting to perform his duty. The films were only fifteen seconds every two minutes, and the officer did not have the keys to the cells.

In February 2008 Public Prosecutor Petrazzini requested that the case against persons unknown for voluntary manslaughter be dismissed, in that the investigation had provided neither any proof of aggression against Bianzino nor any reason why it should have occurred. The family's lawyers, however, objected to the request, asking for clarification on a number of contentious points: why was no attempt made to resuscitate Bianzino in his cell? What was the origin of the severe liver lesion found in the autopsy? Did the liver lesion have anything to do with the death? Contrary to the opinion of the forensic pathologists appointed by the Public Prosecutor, the family-appointed medical experts totally ruled out the possibility of the lesion having been caused during the resuscitation. Petrazzini, however, requested again that the case be dismissed. But many other questions remain unanswered. Why was Bianzino half-naked with the window open when it was so cold? Why was the cell not examined by the scientific police? What were Bianzino's movements the afternoon before he died? And why were there signs of stains having been removed with bleach from one of Bianzino's T-shirts when it was returned to his girlfriend after his death?.

In December 2010 the manslaughter case was finally dismissed. In February 2012 the prison officer Gianluca Cantoro was sentenced in first instance to eighteen months for failure to provide medical treatment and failure to carry out his duty. On 16th April 2014 the Court of Appeal sentenced him to twelve months imprisonment, combining the charge of failure to do his duty with that of failure to provide medical treatment.
Roberta Radici, together with the Truth and Justice for Aldo Committee and the associations Antigone and A Buon Diritto, continued battling for the truth about Aldo Bianzini's death until she died from a tumour in 2009. Since then, Aldo's son Rudra has taken up the struggle for truth and justice for his father.

Published: Wednesday, 18 February 2015 18:48

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