Italian Cops Ordered Prison Hit on U.S. Cop Killer Teens Finnegan Elder and Gabe Natale Hjorth, Messages Show

ROME — Like Two young Americans were convicted stabbed to death an Italian police officer in 2019 begged for their lives in an appeals court on Thursday, another court heard scam police wanted them to be brutally beaten or even “dissolved in acid” within hours of the murder.

Finnegan Elder and Gabriel Natale-Hjorth were 19 and 18 years old when Carabinieri officer Mario Cerciello Rega, 35, died of 11 knife wounds inflicted by Elder on a cobblestone street in Rome in July 2019. Rega, working secretly with partner Andrea Varriale, tried to retrieve a backpack that Americans admitted had stolen from a drug dealer scam after they were given crushed aspirin instead of the cocaine they bought.

The Americans were sentenced to life in prison last May, and their automatic appeal began in Rome on Thursday. But a day earlier, a separate trial was underway against two officials accused of abuse of power in connection with the arrest of a minor. One was an official who illegally blindfolded Natale-Hjorth shortly after his arrest, and another was an officer who sent a photo of the blindfolded teenager around.

That trial revealed WhatsApp messages between four other Carabinieri officials who urged each other to kill the boys in a prison hit. “Kill them to death,” one notice said. “Dissolve them in acid,” another urged. One particularly disturbing announcement even said, “Does he like Cucchi?”in connection with the 2009 murder of Stefano Cucchi, a young man who died in custody for a drug deal. The two police officers were eventually sentenced to 12 years in prison for manslaughter in his death.

Italy’s justice minister said a full investigation into the four officers who exchanged text messages would be conducted.

The Americans are appealing the verdict based on the circumstances that led to Rega’s death. When the undercover police approached the children at the time, a fight broke out and Elder admitted that he pulled out his military knife and fatally stabbed Rega. Elder and Natale-Hjorth say the police – who did not have weapons or badges – danced them first and they did not know they were law enforcement officers. Varriale testified in court that the children attacked them without cause. No surveillance footage of the incident was ever included as evidence, although there was a bank camera pointed directly at the scene. That footage was turned over to police, according to the bank. But they determined that it was “irrelevant” in the case.

Obtained by The Daily Beast

A photo of Natale-Hjorth blindfolded while in police custody has caused a stir around the world, identified as being taken by Varriale, the deceased police partner. Defense attorneys for the Americans say the images show that the key witness in the case approached one of the suspects before they were formally charged with the murder.

Varriale was punished for lying about having a weapon and his badge at the time of the deadly encounter, and US lawyers are expected to argue in the appeal that he also lied when he said that the Americans attacked the police first. All of Rega’s knife marks were on his back, which Elder’s defense says indicates police were on him, and that he acted in self-defence.

One of the big questions in the case has always been why the two undercover officers never called for assistance or informed the dispatcher where they were going as they worked to recover a stolen backpack in connection with the incident. in connection with a drug trafficking case. It’s still unclear why they don’t have badges or weapons.

Elder’s attorney said in a statement to The Daily Beast that “the truth will come out” in the appeal. The Americans had separate defenses, but together they resisted. They will argue that the judge displayed favoritism for law enforcement when punishing young men.

“The truth about what really happened that night is already in the documents collected during the preliminary hearing,” Renato Borzone told reporters ahead of the appeal hearing. “You just want to see it.”

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