06:52 GMT06 April 2020
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    A local police officer was killed after being stabbed eight times in the Italian capital’s old town. There are conflicting reports as to how the tragedy played out, although some have suggested that two Americans suspected of the crime had bought supposedly illicit drugs, but which turned out to be aspirin, prompting them to want money back.

    Two 19-year-olds from San Francisco, California have been arrested in the Italian capital after a local police officer was stabbed to death. They are suspected of murder and attempted extortion. The suspects, named Christian Gabriel Natale Hjorth and Elder Finnegan Lee, were staying in a hotel near the murder scene and were tracked down thanks to video surveillance and witness testimonies. The police stated that the two, who were allegedly in Italy on vacation, were already ready to leave the country.

    "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”, the police statement said, adding that they had confessed to the charges during interrogation.

    Although both admitted to taking part in the altercation, only one is accused of the murder.

    According to the police statement, it all began with the two allegedly stealing a backpack along with a cell-phone from an Italian citizen. They replied to a call on the phone, saying "they would not return the backpack without 100 euros and 1 gram of cocaine”. The robbed individual then turned to the police, who dispatched officers in plainclothes to meet the suspects under the pretence of making a transaction to get the stolen items back.

    ​But as the officers revealed that they were from the police, one of the Americans stabbed 35-year-old Carabinieri Mario Rega Cerciello and fled.

    While the police have only given minimal details, there are numerous conflicting reports in the Italian media about the murder. Some of them, cited by Bloomberg, suggest that the backpack allegedly belonged to a dealer, while the whole tragedy was supposedly triggered by a drug deal gone wrong, when crushed aspirin was sold to the Americans instead of an illicit substance. At the same time, Ansa news agency reported that the suspected killer had admitted to the police and prosecutors that he didn’t think the murdered man was a policeman and “was afraid of being cheated again”.


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