The photo shows the sit-in in front of the Imperia court for a migrant who was violently beaten | Photo: ANSA
The photo shows the sit-in in front of the Imperia court for a migrant who was violently beaten | Photo: ANSA

Three Italian men were given a suspended sentence of two years in prison for violently beating an immigrant of African origins who hanged himself a few days later.

A judge in the Italian city of Imperia near the Italy-France border gave a two-year prison sentence to three men found guilty of a violent attack on an immigrant of African origins who later killed himself.

The men, Ignazio A., 29 years old and from Palmi near Reggio Calabria in southern Italy, as well as Francesco C., 40, and Giuseppe M., 45, both from the province of Agrigento on the island of Sicily, were found guilty of violently beating Moussa Balde, 23.

Balde, originally from Guinea, hanged himself some days later in a repatriation center (CPR) in Turin in 2021.

The attack, according to the defendants -- who are residents of Ventimiglia on the Italian side of the border with France -- came after Balde tried to steal one of their bags. 

Lawyers 'satisfied' with sentence

During the indictment on December 9, prosecutor Matteo Gobbi had asked for a sentence of 2 years and 8 months in prison for each. 

"I believe in any case it was a balanced sentence. A suspended sentence was granted," lawyer Marco Bosio said, who assisted the defendants, "and general attenuating circumstances were acknowledged in an equivalent level to the aggravating circumstances claimed, as requested by the defence." 

He added that the comments by the judge on the reasoning behind the sentences would be read later but that, "in general we can say that we are satisfied with the sentence. We will assess whether there is a reason to appeal the sentence to get a reduction of the sentence." 

The lawyer representing Balde's family, Gianluca Vitale, said that the "judge deemed the generalized attenuating circumstances equivalent to those of the alleged aggravating circumstances. The prosecutor had asked to exclude them and the defence had asked to consider them prevalent. I must say that a two-year sentence is significant and fairly measured in terms of the seriousness of the crime." 

Vitale added that, "there was also 3,000 euros in compensation awarded to the plaintiffs. A prognosis of 10 days needed for recovery from the injuries sustained had been contested because I believe this was an under-estimation by doctors. The seriousness of the attack should in any case be recognised, beyond the consequences, which will be assessed elsewhere as well." 

Activists decry 'racism' and 'classism' in justice system

Shortly before the sentencing, dozens of activists from several different humanitarian associations conducted a sit-in in front of the court. 

"Moussa Balde was murdered" and "Indifferent = accomplice of racist society" were a couple of the slogans written on placards held up during the protest on Tuesday morning in front of the Imperia court. 

Silvana Vinai, from the Imperia Solidale association, claimed that the sentence was immediately seen as unfair due to "the aggravating circumstance of racism not being taken into consideration, something that was clear in the context in which the assault took place." 


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