THIS is the seven-inch knife that two US teens allegedly used to stab to death an unarmed Italian cop in Rome during a botched drug deal.
Mario Cerciello Rega was stabbed 11 times on July 26 after returning to work from his honeymoon.
Two American teens, Finnegan Elder and Gabriel Natale-Hjorth, are being held on suspicion of murdering the 35-year-old and injuring his colleague Andrea Varriale.
Police commander Francesco Gargaro revealed today the cop had forgotten his gun the night he was fatally stabbed.
But he said that even if the officer had been armed, he would not have had time to draw his weapon before he was killed with the military style knife.
Gargaro said Cerciello Rega left his pistol at his barracks.
He added: “He wouldn’t have imagined that [the assailants] would be armed.”
Elder, 19, is accused of killing Cerciello Rega, while Natale-Hjorth, 18, allegedly “pummelled” the second officer, Andrea Varriale.
BOTCHED DRUG DEAL
Cerciello Rega was attempting to recover a backpack stolen by the American teens after a botched drug deal, Gargaro said.
The Americans, said to have been in Rome on holiday, apparently went out late on Thursday night in search of cocaine.
There they met a middleman who took them to a drug dealer, who sold them aspirin instead of the requested drug, a court was told on Saturday.
As a result, they pinched the middleman’s bag, which had his phone in and ran away before demanding cash and cocaine to return the rucksack, police said.
The middleman was able to contact the Americans after calling his phone and arranged to meet them, the court heard.
But he had also got in touch with police and the two officers went to the arranged meet-up location.
OFFICER ‘FORGOT’ HIS GUN
The officers were in plainclothes and identified themselves as Carabinieri as they approached the two suspects but were immediately attacked, Gargaro said.
Asked why Cerciello Rega didn’t pull his gun, Gargaro said the officer had “forgotten” his weapon after being called into work on a scheduled day off.
“In any case, there was no time to use it,” he added.
Varriale did have his gun but after Natale-Hjorth stopped punching him and ran off, the officer turned his attention to his wounded partner.
The general also stressed that under Italian law it is illegal to fire at a fleeing suspect. If he had done so, Varriale “would have been under investigation for a grave crime.”
SEVEN INCH KNIFE FOUND
Police said Elder confessed to the killing after the alleged murder weapon was found in a hotel room the teenagers from San Francisco were sharing.
Elder told police he had brought the 18cm (7in) knife in a suitcase from the US, but did not explain why.
A judge who approved the jailing of the two teens on Saturday said there were “grave” indications the Americans were responsible for the officer’s death.
During his interrogation, Elder told authorities he stabbed Cerciello Rega because he feared he was being strangled, the judge wrote, noting the teen didn’t have any marks on his neck.
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Judge Gallo cited contradictions in the teens’ statements to investigators: Elder told investigators Hjorth hid the knife, while Natale-Hjorth said he didn’t even know about a stabbing until his friend woke him hours later and reported he had “used a knife” and then washed it.
Italian police can legally hold suspects for an entire year without official charges.
Elder’s father, Ethan Elder, called his son’s case a “precarious situation” and claimed his son is a “good man”.
Hundreds of people, including Italy’s two deputy prime ministers, attended Cerciello Rega’s funeral on Monday, held in the same church where he was married less than two months ago.
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