Driver involved in crash that killed seven cyclists in Italy on Sunday may face murder charges

Prosectors dismiss motorist's version of events; Giro d'Italia to pass site of tragedy in May

by Simon_MacMichael   December 7, 2010  

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Prosecutors investigating the deaths of seven cyclists at Lamezia Terme in Calabria, Italy, on Sunday are considering charging the driver involved with murder, according to a report in Italian sports daily La Gazzetta dello Sport.

The newspaper says prosecutors have dismissed the version of events provided by the driver, 21-year-old Moroccan national Chafik El Ketani, currently being held in the southern Italian town’s jail, which means he could face charges of multiple murder rather than manslaughter.

The motorist tested positive for having smoked marijuana in the aftermath of the incident, and police revealed that he had previously been banned from driving for dangerous overtaking.

Sunday’s chain of events is believed to have begun with El Ketani overtaking a vehicle at speed on a bend, meaning that he was on the wrong side of the road when he hit the group of cyclists head-on.

He claims, however, that he was forced to react after another driver cut him up, a story contested by prosecutor Salvatore Vitelli, who told the newspaper that those circumstances “didn’t correspond with the truth.”

Ahead of the funeral of the seven cyclists which took place this morning in the town’s football stadium in front of thousands of mourners, each coffin accompanied by a bicycle, mayor Gianni Speranza said: “Now is the time to allow the families to grieve for their loved ones.”

Meanwhile, organisers of the Giro d’Italia have confirmed that the course of next May’s race will pass the site of Sunday’s tragedy.

Stage 8 of the 2011 Giro, announced in Turin last month, takes the peloton from Sapri in Campania to Tropea in Calabria on Saturday 14 May, ahead of the race crossing the Straits of Messina for a double ascent of Mount Etna the following day.

Although the route was already due to pass Lamezia Terme, scene of Sunday’s tragedy, precise details had not yet been revealed but it has now been confirmed that the peloton will pass the site of the accident.

It has not been disclosed whether any special commemoration will mark the race passing the point on Strada Statale 18 where the cyclists’ lost their lives.

10 user comments

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This is more like it. He SHOULD face murder charges imo because he willingly took marijuana, got in a car and killed seven people. That is murder in my book.

posted by Karbon Kev [683 posts]
7th December 2010 - 13:39


I agree with Kev, not only had he been smoking marijuana, but he was also banned from driving!

All the gear and no idea!

posted by JonMack [173 posts]
7th December 2010 - 13:41


It is very likely that he will face murder charges. Unless he absconds back to Morocco, which would be travesty.

posted by Decster [246 posts]
7th December 2010 - 14:17


It's largely irrelevant as he's a $&*^ regardless, but Italian law must differ from others as I can't see how they could make a murder charge stick. Negligent yes, but pre-meditated? I sure hope not.

posted by ped [197 posts]
7th December 2010 - 15:01


posted by ped [197 posts]
7th December 2010 - 15:02


Nope, don't see how a murder charge could be made to stick, unless Italian law is very different from ours. The maximum sentence for manslaughter would be quite long I assume and he would have little or no defence against that. Add on further charges for driving while under the influence and while banned and this would result in a very long sentence (15+ years at least).


posted by OldRidgeback [2586 posts]
7th December 2010 - 15:36

1 Like

ped wrote:
It's largely irrelevant as he's a $&*^ regardless, but Italian law must differ from others as I can't see how they could make a murder charge stick. Negligent yes, but pre-meditated? I sure hope not.

It's always difficult to translate offences directly across different jurisdictions (and I should mention that I did study Italian law), but the charges being talked about in Italy in relation to this case are 'omicidio colposo' (which roughly equates to manslaughter) and 'omicidio volontario' (roughly comparable to murder - it's not the same as the offence of 'voluntary manslaughter' found in the US ).

Note that these are imperfect translations, but in this case, if the driver is indeed charged with 'omicidio volontario,' that is broadly the same offence he would have been charged with if he'd taken aim with a weapon and fired at the cyclists (although Italian law does make a distinction between degrees of the crime based on various aggravating factors).

Interestingly, the Director of Public Prosecutions here has recently come out in support of following the US system by separating murder and manslaughter into three tiers - first degree murder, second degree murder, and manslaughter.

The charges being spoken about in Italy would, I imagine, fall under the heading of second degree murder.

It's also worth noting that premeditation is not necessarily required to convict for murder under English law, although the prosecution would need to establish for example an intention to cause grevious bodily harm.

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posted by Simon_MacMichael [9521 posts]
7th December 2010 - 15:57


show boating by the Italian prosecutor, very much doubt it'll stick but at least they have the balls to make the right noises.
if it was over here they 'd be nothing from the CPS and they'd end up going for a carless driving charge because they thought it'd be the best change of a conviction (the fact the guy would get a slap on the wrists means nothing to them).

they have to figure out what they can charge him with that'll put hime away for a long time.

posted by mrchrispy [414 posts]
7th December 2010 - 15:58


This is worth noting:

Italy: Some 295 cyclist lost their life in road accidents in 2009
La Repubblica, 06 Dec 2010, online:-
According to data by Italy's statistics body ISTAT and the Italian road safety watchdog ASAPS, the number of cyclist who lost their lives in road accidents was of 295 people in 2009, while 14,804 were injured. This marks a 2.4% increase of fatalities compared to 2008. Bicycle accidents accounted for 5.2% of injured and 8.3% of overall deaths, with an average mortality rate of 1.9%, against the 0.9% reported per vehicle category.


posted by OldRidgeback [2586 posts]
7th December 2010 - 16:10


Commented elsewhere that this miscreant deserves to find himself locked away for the rest of his natural life on the public stocks so that people can splatter him with eggs,tomatoes and manure !
Nothing can be too bad for anyone that knowingly gets behind the wheel of any vehicle after using drugs or alcohol and destroys families as well as taking others lives !
Punishment these days rarely fits the crime !

Skippy(advocate for "Disabled / Para Sport")@skippydetour. blogging as skippi-cyclist.blogspot & Parrabuddy.blogspot currently on the road with ProTour Grand Tour Events .

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posted by skippy [409 posts]
22nd December 2010 - 17:28