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Tuesday, January 13, 1998 Published at 14:09 GMT



World: Europe

Serial killer suspected of murdering Italian gays
image: [ The protesters assemble in front of the Vittoriano in Rome ]
The protesters assemble in front of the Vittoriano in Rome

Members of the gay community in Italy are claiming that not enough is being done to catch a serial killer who many believe has murdered 11 homosexuals in seven years.

A candlelit procession was held in Rome on Monday night in memory of the latest victim, Enrico Sini Luzia, and to protest at the perceived inaction of the authorities.


BBC Correspondent Orla Guerin discusses the killings (Dur2'34")
Mr Sini Luzia, a member of the Vatican protocol corps, was found dead in his Rome apartment on January 6. The 67-year-old's skull had been crushed with a heavy object and he may also have been strangled.

His elegant apartment had been ransacked and his Vatican medals had been stolen. However, there was no sign of forced entry, leading police to believe that the victim knew his killer.

Related deaths

Mr Sini Luzia's death was the latest in a string of murders that share similar traits. Over the last seven years 18 men, who police believe were gay, have been killed in Rome.


[ image: The latest victim Enrico Sini Luzia was a rich aristocrat who held an honorary position in the |Vatican]
The latest victim Enrico Sini Luzia was a rich aristocrat who held an honorary position in the |Vatican
Most of the victims were middle-aged and were found bludgeoned to death at home in a naked or near-naked state.

Eight of the murders have been solved. But members of the gay community believe the remaining crimes are the work of a serial killer.

However, police say there is insufficient evidence to support this theory.

Church's intolerance blamed

Gay groups are also blaming the killings on a climate of homophobia in a country where Catholicism is still strong and calls are now being made for the chuch to be more tolerant.

On Tuesday morning a Sicilian man set himself on fire in St Peter's Square in protest at the Vatican's ban on gay sex .

Police said Alfredo Ormando, 39, doused himself with petrol and set himself alight and then tried to run into St Peter's Basilica. The 39-year-old fell unconscious before reaching the entrance.

Italian news agencies said he suffered 90% burns and was in a serious condition in hospital.

Calls for action

The gay community's frustration also extends to the police reaction to the killings. Many feel that investigators have not given the murders as high a priority as they would if the victims had been heterosexual.


[ image: The murders have led gay groups to warn people to be careful about who they take home with them.]
The murders have led gay groups to warn people to be careful about who they take home with them.
"The crime involving Enrico Sini Luzia is only the latest in an incredible series of killings that seem to have no end," Franco Grillini, the President of Arcigay, an Italian gay advocacy group, said in a statement.

Mr Grillini is asking for a parliamentary inquest into violence against gays. "A government intervention is absolutely necessary to break the wave of homicides," he said.






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Internet Links

Circolo "Mario Mieli" - The largest gay group in Rome (in Italian)

The Vatican


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