Police chief replaced as Macerata case widens

The Public Prosecutor of Macerata, Giovanni Giorgio.

ROME – Macerata's police chief has been replaced with police stating that the investigation into the gruesome murder of Pamela Mastropietro, whose body was found dismembered in two suitcases, needed "a change of pace," as investigators widen their enquiries to a fourth suspect and postulated that the killing may have been carried out according to African tribal rites, according to Il Messaggero.

 The case, taking place in the city of Macerata, has dominated Italian front pages since the arrest of Nigerian Innocent Oseghale, and the neo-fascist attack on migrants by Luca Traini on Feb 3, in supposed retaliation for Oseghale’s arrest. The Italian right, in particular, has sought to use the brutal murder to criticise Italy’s stance on migration.

 Vincenzo Vuono, the former head of police in the city, was unceremoniously relocated to an office in Rome on Monday and replaced by Antonio Pignataro, as pressure grows on investigators to bring the divisive case to a close.

 The investigation was expanded to include a fourth Nigerian national on Monday evening, believed to be a 40-year-old refugee who spoke to Oseghale on Friday and Saturday. It follows the arrest of two others the day before on the suspicion of murder, concealing a body and involvement in the sale of drugs, police announced.

 Desmond Lucky and Lucky Awelima, 27-year-old, who was apprehended at Milan railway station, have been taken into custody. However, investigators are still uncertain as to the exact events that took place, with two rival stories emerging from Oseghale and Lucky.

 The Public Prosecutor of Macerata, Giovanni Giorgio, emphasised that the inflammatory nature of the case meant it was more important than ever to avoid “following or consenting to procedures of summary justice.”

 Mastropietro is known to have left drug rehabilitation on Jan 29 and arrived in Macerata, where she is believed to have contacted Oseghale to acquire narcotics. Police stated that Oseghale claims to have fled his flat on Via Spalato after Mastropietro overdosed, returning later to find her dismembered body in two suitcases. Against this, Lucky is believed to have asserted that he had never visited the apartment where blood-stained clothing and other vital pieces of evidence were recovered.

 On Monday, Desmond Lucky’s lawyer, Gianfranco Borgani, suggested that his client and the others may be keeping quiet in order to protect another figure and their relatives back home in Nigeria who could face retributive actions.

 A provisional coroner’s report stated that there were “significantly relevant elements” that led to the suspicion that Pamela Mastropietro’s death was caused by voluntary homicide.

 Giorgio reminded the public on Sunday that the “results can still only be considered provisional” and that the case “cannot be consider complete.” Investigators await the results of crucial scientific tests that they hope will verify more of the facts of the case, including questions surrounding footprints in the flat and whether Mastropietro died as a result of an overdose.