Screenshot of video footage showing the brutal assault on Musa Balde in Ventimiglia on May 9, 2021 | Source: YouTube
Screenshot of video footage showing the brutal assault on Musa Balde in Ventimiglia on May 9, 2021 | Source: YouTube

A 23-year-old Guinean hanged himself in the night between Saturday and Sunday in a Turin migrant holding center (CPR) two weeks after being attacked by three people in Ventimiglia. The man had been facing expulsion from Italy.

The 23-year-old was in the Piedmont city after being attacked in Ventimiglia (Imperia) on May 9 by three people who were identified and reported to the police. Prosecutors in Turin on Monday opened a probe into the suicide.

The 23-year-old Guinean man, Musa Balde, was attacked on May 9 in Ventimiglia, possibly after he allegedly tried to take something from a supermarket. During the night between May 22 and 23 he committed suicide in the Turin reception center in Corso Brunelleschi where he was taken after the attack.

Sources close to the case said he had been in isolation to protect the health of the other residents. He hanged himself using the sheets in his bedroom. Prosecutors in Turin on May 24 opened an investigation into the suicide.

The attack on May 9

The immigrant of African origin was attacked and clobbered in Via Ruffini, in downtown Ventimiglia, right behind city hall and the border police station.

It took investigators less than 24 hours to question witnesses, watch videos from surveillance cameras of the supermarket and the police station and to identify the three suspects who allegedly hit the young man. The attack was filmed on a video that went viral on social media.

The three men are Italian nationals, two Sicilians from Agrigento aged 28 and 39, and a 44-year-old from Palmi, near Reggio Calabria. The suspects reside in Ventimiglia.

The men have been charged with aggravated assault. They allegedly punched Balde on the head and face and kicked him in the abdomen when he was already lying down. Police seized the video of the attack posted on social media, piecing together facts based on the accounts provided by witnesses and footage from surveillance cameras.

Charge of attempted theft

Balde, who was irregularly staying in Italy and had already been expelled from the country, allegedly tried to steal a cell phone from one of the three suspects inside the supermarket.

Initially, the three men insulted Balde and then followed him. They took a couple of hard plastic pipes, pinned him to a wall and started to hit him. Many heard the young man's screams and yelled from balconies and windows to leave the man alone.

But the three attackers, although the young man was at that point lying on the ground and unable to react in any way, continued to clobber him and nobody stopped them. The victim was later taken to hospital in Bordighera and released with a 10-day prognosis for wounds and facial trauma. He was supposed to be expelled once again but the suicide ended his difficult life.

Ombudsman said man not treated correctly

Italy's ombudsman for detainees' rights, Mauro Palma, said officials had not recognized the victim's vulnerability and fragility. He said Balde had not been treated "correctly."

"A person entrusted to public responsibility needs to be taken care of and held in a way that takes into account his specific situation, his potential vulnerability and fragility. This didn't happen," Palma said.


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