Hundreds mourn Nigerian killed in Italy attack

(iStock)
(iStock)

Rome - Hundreds of mourners attended the funeral on Sunday of a Nigerian migrant who was killed by a right-wing football fan in a racist attack which has sparked much soul-searching in Italy.

"He came to live in peace, he found death," read one of the many messages left with flowers for Emmanuele Chidi Nnamdi, whose widow, dressed all in white, sat near his rose-topped coffin in the cathedral of Fermo in central Italy.

Nnamdi, 36, died in hospital after he was punched by farmer Amedeo Mancini during a fight in the town on Tuesday which broke out after Mancini called Nnamdi's wife Chinyere an "African monkey".

Mancini, 39, who was arrested, admitted to police that he had insulted the woman, but said he believed the pair had been about to steal a car, and only assaulted Nnamdi after the latter hit him first with a road sign.

He also defended his use of the term "monkey" as not racist, but simply an expression commonly used at the football stadium.

The deadly incident was met with outrage but also questions on how to tackle xenophobia in a country where prominent right-wing politicians have also been known to use the term.

In perhaps the most high-profile case, Cecile Kyenge, a DR Congo-born Italian MEP, was minister for integration in July 2013 when a senator from Italy's anti-immigration Northern League party publicly compared her to an orangutan.

Despite widespread outrage over the slur, the Italian senate blocked legal action against the politician.

Nnamdi's funeral was attended by Parliamentary Relations Minister Maria Elena Boschi and the president of the lower house of parliament, Laura Boldrini.

Nnamdi and Chinyere fled Nigeria last year after an attack on a church by the Islamic extremist group Boko Haram in which their 2-year-old son and other members of their families were killed.

Chinyere reportedly later suffered a miscarriage during the boat journey across the Mediterranean to Italy after being attack by a trafficker in Libya. Since their arrival, the couple had been housed in a shelter run by Catholic organisation Caritas.

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