Chico Forti is greeted by PM Meloni on his return to Italy this weekend. Image: Facebook account of Giorgia Meloni

Government secures convicted murderer’s return to Italy

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Chico Forti, an Italian businessman condemned to life imprisonment in the USA for killing an Australian businessman in 1998, returned to Italy at the weekend to serve his sentence here.

Opposition parties have criticised Premier Giorgia Meloni for greeting Chico Forti at the airport over the weekend after diplomatic efforts secured his return to Italy to serve his sentence here.

The 65-year-old from Trentino, who was sentenced to life imprisonment in Florida in 2000 for the murder of Dale Pike on February 15, 1998, and his supporters have always maintained he is a victim of a miscarriage of justice.

“Work on bringing Chico Forti started a long time ago and we pushed hard for it; me included,” Walter Verini, a Senator for the centre-left Democratic Party (PD), told Monday’s Corriere della Sera. “It is a good thing that this government finished the job. The objective of an entire country has been achieved.

“But what Prime Minister Meloni did is not acceptable,” he added. He was referring to Meloni meeting Forti at the Pratica di Mare military airport near Rome after he was brought to Italy on an Air Force flight. “He was welcomed with full honours. All that was missing was the red carpet.

“Chico Forti has been definitively convicted of murder by the justice system of a democratic country. Working towards that goal (of bringing him back) doesn’t mean having to welcome him like a hero. This is pure electoral propaganda,” he said, with next month’s European elections just weeks away.

Meloni says it shows her ability to succeed

Meloni, on the other hand, said the case showed her ability to succeed where others have failed.

“I’d been following the case for years,” the premier told Mediaset television on Monday. “I know his family. I’m happy that a mother will be able to embrace her son again. I’m happy that I maintained a commitment. I managed to do what others could not.”

Girogia Meloni's Facebook post about the return of Chico Forti to Italy.

Forti has been transferred to a jail in Verona and has requested to see his 96-year-old mother. “I hope one day to be a free man in Italy because I am innocent,” he said.

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