Antonino Speziale, the 19 year old charged with the murder of police inspector Filippo Raciti on 2 February 2007, has been released pending trial in September. After a period in a juvenile detention centre and a further period of house arrest, the local juvenile court of appeal has ruled that he poses no immediate threat and released him on bail.
In an interview today Speziale denied that he had thrown a piece of sink at Raciti, though he claimed that his memories of the evening were hazy. Instead, he says, he threw the lump of hardware "away from him" but not in the direction of any policemen. In fact, there is still doubt as to whether the alleged weapon - the metal tubing from under one of the sinks in the Massimino stadium's doubtless unsalubrious gents - could actually have caused the fatal injuries at all.
Speziale has already been tried & convicted for the lesser offence of resisting a police officer, and has also been issued with a 5 year banning order (Daspo) which means that before, during and after all Catania home games he has to go & sign the offenders' register in his local police station. His interview today was full of exactly the kind of statements that his defence lawyers will have been most pleased by: "In these last months I've grown a lot... it's been a journey of integration and re-education for me." He expressed condolences for Raciti's widow, and commented "He was, and remains, a hero since he died in the service of the state. But it wasn't me who killed him." In a final platitude he offered "My love for Catania remains, even though I can't go to the ground. This experience has taught me that you should go to the stadium solely to enjoy the match." Well that's alright then. Forgive my cynicism, but it all sounds just a little too pious.
The wheels of Italian justice grinding more slow than most, who knows how long the murder trial (due to start on 30 September) will actually last. Speziale isn't the only defendant: another local man Daniele Micale is also accused of involvement. It still remains to be seen how far the truth of this case can ever be established: video footage, though extensive, is inconclusive, and scientific reports are contradictory and raise more questions than they answer. The story that Raciti was hit by a reversing police van is persistent but I have no idea whether there is any foundation to it. Nor has it ever been made clear exactly how far the rioting was planned, or what the role of local neo-fascist groups was. Perhaps the trial will provide some clarity. Perhaps Speziale is sincere. Perhaps Italian football is really ok. Or then again...