US student’s death: Homeless Italian suspect released

Rome, Dec 2 (IANS/AKI) A homeless Italian man arrested over the death of an American college student who drowned in Rome’s Tiber river was on Friday freed from jail after five months in custody.

Massimo Galioto, 40, was released from prison due to a lack of evidence that he was responsible for 19-year-old US student Beau Solomon’s death on the night of 30 June, his lawyer said.

“I am satisfied, even if I believe my client should have been freed much sooner,” Galioto’s lawyer Michele Vincelli told Adnkronos.

Galioto had been a “scapegoat for US and Italian public opinion,” Vincelli said, adding that the prosecution case against him had “collapsed like a pack of cards”.

Analysis of security camera footage and cross-questioning of Galioto’s ex-girlfriend had failed to corroborate prosecution claims that Solomon fell into the Tiber, hit his head on rocks and drowned after being pushed in by Galioto during a fight, Vincelli said.

“The investigation should have immediately concentrated on more suspects. That night there were several other people on the river bank, who have since vanished,” Vincelli added.

Solomon’s body was found four days after went missing following an evening spent with friends in a pub in Rome’s central Trastevere district beside the Tiber.

Police believe Solomon was mugged when he left the bar by two people who stole his wallet and mobile phone.

The keen American footballer gave chase to the robbers, who ran down an embankment towards the Tiber, according to investigators. He is then believed to have got into a scuffle on the riverbank near a bridge under which a number of homeless people live.

Preliminary autopsy results indicated that Solomon drowned and had suffered injuries consistent with a fall and with days spent in the water.

Solomon had arrived in Rome on the day he disappeared to begin a five-week exchange programme at the English-language John Cabot University in Trastevere.

He was from Spring Green, Wisconsin and was majoring in finance at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

–IANS/AKI

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