News World Vacationing US teens arrested over stabbing death of Italian policeman

Vacationing US teens arrested over stabbing death of Italian policeman

us teens police murder
Police say the 19-year-olds confessed gto the slaying. Photo: AP
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Two US teenagers vacationing in Rome have been jailed over the murder of an Italian police officer after a suspected drug deal gone wrong.

A detention order issued by prosecutors named the pair as Gabriel Christian Natale Hjorth and Finnegan Lee Elder, according to Italian state broadcaster RAI.

The detention order states that both were born in San Francisco in 2000. Police said they were 19 years old.

A police statement said surveillance footage and witness testimonies had allowed the Capitoline Investigative Unit to identify the two responsible for the “heinous crime”.

Prosecutors said in the detention order that Elder was the main suspect, accused of repeatedly stabbing Carabinieri paramilitary policeman Mario Cerciello Rega, 35.

Mr Rega was investigating the theft of a bag after a drug deal gone wrong in Rome.

Natale Hjorth is accused of using his bare hands to strike the officer’s partner, who wasn’t seriously injured in the attack.

Both teenagers were also being investigated for attempted extortion.

us teens police murder
Mr Rega was stabbed eight times in the confrontation. Photos: AP

The two Americans were arrested inside their Rome hotel room, Italian police told CNN.

“They were already ready to leave the country,” police said.

“During the search of the hotel room, which was occupied by the two detainees, the murder weapon was found and seized, a knife of considerable size, cleverly hidden behind a ceiling panel, as well as the clothes worn during the crime,” they said.

“The two, once at the station, were interrogated by the Carabinieri, under the direction of the magistrates of the Public Prosecutor of Rome, in the face of overwhelming evidence, they confessed to the charge.”

Elder’s lawyer Francesco Codini, however, said his client exercised his right not to respond to questions during a detention hearing held on Saturday in the Rome jail where the two teens are being kept.

Natale Hjorth’s lawyer wasn’t immediately available for comment.

An Italian investigator, who wished to remain anonymous, said the pair had snatched the bag of a drug dealer in Rome after the man apparently gave them “a different substance” believed to be aspirin instead of cocaine.

The Carabinieri said the Americans demanded a 100 euro ($161) ransom and a gram of cocaine to return the bag.

The alleged dealer called police, saying he had arranged a meeting with the thieves to get his bag and phone back.

Police said there was a scuffle at the rendezvous site and the policeman was stabbed eight times, dying shortly afterward in hospital.

-with AAP

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