Stefano Cucchi case, the hidden truth for eleven years
On 15 October 2009, Stefano Cucchi, a former drug addict, was arrested by five policemen, including two on patrol and three who arrived on the spot in daily clothes, all on duty at the Rome Appia Station. After seeing Emanuele Mancini handing a transparent packaging in exchange for a banknote, the boy was immediately searched for and found in possession of 12 packages containing hashish, for a total of 20 grams, 3 packs of cocaine and a medicine to treat epilepsy, a disease from which he was suffering.
Once taken to the barracks, the police went to search the parents’ house where they found nothing. At this point the commander of the barracks, sent his men to perform the photosignalling on the arrested Cucchi. Once they reach the place where they had to carry out the ordered task, Stefano Cucchi refused to be photographed and had a heated discussion with a policeman.
On leaving the two continue to be offended and one of the policemen reacted. In that context there were 3 policemen: two beat the prisoner, while the other tried to oppose and recall the two colleagues. The latter alerts the head of the barracks, who advises him to return to the command centre.
Stefano Cucchi presented evident signs of struggle that, however, he cannot denounce out of fear. To those who asked him how he felt, he’d say he was fine and that he had fallen down the stairs. The next day, the validation hearing was held, and during the trial he had difficulty walking and speaking, and showed noticeable bruising around his eyes.
The judge confirmed the arrest. Stefano Cucchi’s condition worsened day by day. He went from one prison to another, from one hospital to another, always refusing treatment. At dawn 22 October 2009, Stefano Cucchi died at the Sandro Pertini Hospital. After the first hearing, the family members tried several times to see, or at least know, what his physical condition was like, but without success: they had news of their relative only when a judicial officer went to their home to notify the permission of the magistrate to perform an autopsy.
The first investigations and processes
After the death of Stefano Cucchi, the prison staff denied that they had used violence on the young man and some hypotheses were made about the cause of death, which may have been a consequence of drug abuse, or due to previous physical conditions, or for refusing admission. To counter the false claims about Cucchi’s death, the family published some photos of the young man taken in the morgue, in which various blunt trauma and a clear state of malnutrition are clearly visible. During the investigation into the causes of his death, more than one witness claimed that Stefano Cucchi had told him that he had been beaten. Preliminary investigations claimed that the cause of death would be lack of medical care.
On 5 June 2013, five doctors from the Sandro Pertini Hospital in Rome were convicted of manslaughter and conspiracy to commit murder, while six nurses and prison police officers were acquitted, who the judges say did not in any way contribute to the death of Cucchi.
A year later they were all acquitted to the amazement of public opinion. In July 2017, after some judicial changes and some important testimonies, such as that of a policeman on duty that night, repeatedly threatened to false claim, the protagonists of the arrest of that night and the commander of the barracks, accused of abuse of power, were sent back to trial.
On 20 June 2018, Francesco Tedesco, one of the defendants, had lodged a complaint against unknown persons with the Public Prosecutor’s Office in Rome, in which he reported the disappearance of a service note he had written on 22 October 2009 and addressed to his superiors, in which he explained the events of the night between 15 and 16 October. In particular, he described that he had witnessed the beating of Stefano Cucchi by two of his colleagues, violence that he had unnecessarily tried to put an end to.
On 4 April 2022, the Supreme Court sentenced the two policemen involved in the beating to 12 years imprisonment. This is the story of one of the many murders in the state, all with the same plot. Misdirection, corruption, threats.
The judicial system in Italy must be changed, of course, but we must never, never, remain silent and passively watch injustices. This process was concluded thanks to the public opinion that pushed a lot to know the true truth about the death of a young man, but above all it ended for the strength that the family had for eleven years, the strength he had despite everything to continue to believe not what was said in the courtroom, but what was the reality. We hope that with time there will be fewer and fewer incidents of this kind and we hope that sooner or later the Italian legal system will be more efficient.