Tale of two migrants shakes Italy

Mon Aug 31, 2015 1:55pm EDT
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By Crispian Balmer

ROME (Reuters) - One migrant is reviled, suspected of killing an elderly couple in Sicily; another has been hailed as a hero, killed after trying to prevent an armed robbery at a supermarket in Naples.

The twin tragedies have shaken Italy, struggling in the face of a massive influx of migrants, and touched off a fierce political debate, with opposition parties accusing the government of doing too little to protect ordinary people.

Police on Saturday arrested an 18-year-old from Ivory Coast after discovering he had a mobile phone, laptop and video camera as he returned to the migrant reception center where he had been living since arriving in Sicily by boat in June.

Shortly afterwards police found the real owners of the gadgets -- both were dead. Vincenzo Solano, 68, had had his throat cut in his apartment, while his 70-year-old wife, Mercedes, had been killed by a apparent fall from her balcony.

The Ivory Coast man, whose name and photograph were splashed across the Italian media, said he found the goods under a tree. Police are analyzing blood on his clothing.

He has yet to be charged, but that did not stop increasingly popular anti-immigration politicians from leaping on the case, saying it showed the migration crisis was out of control and urging much stricter controls on newcomers.

"An elderly couple massacred in Catania, a 'refugee' detained. Which war did this guy escape from?" Matteo Salvini, head of the Northern League party, wrote on Facebook. He added that the migrant center that housed him should be shuttered.

"The INVASION must be stopped at all costs. (Prime Minister Matteo) Renzi and (Interior Minister Angelino) Alfano, how many deaths do you have on your consciences?" he wrote.   Continued...