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A Forgotten Hero

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The Italian hostage executed in Iraq tried to tear off his hood seconds before he was shot dead and screamed: “Now I’ll show you how an Italian dies.”

Details of the final moments of Fabrizio Quattrocchi deepened Italy’s shock and outrage at the hostage crisis as it awaited further news of the three other men seized with him on Monday.

The Italian foreign minister, Franco Frattini, praised Mr Quattrocchi, 36, a former baker, was a hero. He told of the killing after Italy’s ambassador to Qatar was shown the footage by the Arab television station Al-Jazeera, which has not broadcast the video.

“I have been authorised by the [victim’s] family… to reveal the final words of this boy who died what I would call a courageous death, I would say like a hero,” Mr Frattini said.

“When his assassins were pointing a gun at him, this boy tried to remove the hood and shouted: ‘Now I’ll show you how an Italian dies.’ And they killed him.”

Mr Quattrocchi’s abductors shot him in the neck at close range. Al-Jazeera said that he was forced to dig his own grave.

Millions of Italians, including the victim’s family in Genoa, learned of his death while watching a television chat show on Wednesday night.

Among the audience were relatives of the other hostages. They had an agonising wait to discover which man had died after hearing that a hostage had been killed before the programme was aired.

Although Mr Frattini was among the programme’s guests, it was the show’s host, Bruno Vespa, who made the announcement at midnight. Then Mr Frattini confirmed the grim news of Mr Quattrocchi’s death.

Francesco Cupertino, the brother of one of the other hostages, asked the foreign minister: “What will happen now?” Mr Frattini replied: “We have to work hard to bring them out.” He said Italy would do “what is possible and impossible”. But he underlined that it would not negotiate with the kidnappers, who call themselves the Green Brigade of the Prophet.

Mr Quattrocchi was born in Sicily and moved to Genoa with his family. He had become a bodyguard after doing a stint as a nightclub bouncer and then signed up to work in Iraq.

He was said to have accepted a job as a security guard working in Iraq for an American company, to earn enough for a home in Italy and to get married.

“Fabrizio was a wonderful man, a man of iron but who had never hurt a fly,” his fiancee, Alice, told Italian television yesterday. “He was supposed to come back to me and we were to get married.

“The only consolation is that he died with honour.”

But relatives of one of the other three hostages, Salvatore Stefio, 34, reacted with despondency and despair.

“He may have died a hero, but he’s still dead,” said Mr Stefio’s younger brother Christian. “With the murder of Fabrizio Quattrocchi, part of us has also died,” said Mr Stefio’s wife Emanuala.

Mr Stefio’s father Angelo called on Italians to “take to the streets in order to stop all this”. He appealed for the peacekeeping coalition in Iraq to try to broker an exchange to secure the remaining hostages’ release.

Al-Jazeera said a statement sent with the video had warned that three other Italians who were working for an American company and were kidnapped with Mr Quattrocchi near Fallujah would be killed “one by one”.

Most Italian politicians closed ranks around Italy’s centre-Right prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, who has said he will not be bullied into withdrawing 3,000 Italian troops from Iraq. “They have cut short a life,” said Mr Berlusconi. “They have not damaged our values and commitment to peace.”

However, Mr Quattrocchi’s family said he might have lived if Mr Berlusconi had not made “rash” comments after the kidnappings.

“Before making declarations of force, the government would have done better to have opened talks with the kidnappers,” the family said. “There is the feeling that the government wanted to make a show of strength by playing with the lives of those [Italians] in Iraq.”

Colleagues of Mr Quattrocchi said he had been captured while accompanying a group of clients on the road to Amman in Jordan.

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About RJ

  • And the murder of a mercenary is relevant how, you cack-handed mini-goebbels?

    Mercenaries going to a war-zone which is deteriorating is a balance-sheet of risk assessment. Not heroism.

    I can’t wait for the story of “we had to destroy the village to save the village”.

  • i am curious as to the point of cutting and asting an entire news article from elsewhere. Also, don’t you ened express permission of the publisher to do that? fair enough, provide some quotes from the original article, but at least re-write the story in your own words (possibly using more than one source), and preferably offer some opinion of your own.
    last time i looked, Blogcritics wasn’t a news site

  • Sandra Smallson

    Goodness gracious! Jim Carruthers, are you not special?! Let me get this straight. This man went to Iraq for work. You believe the Iraq war was unjustified. Somehow, his death was deserved? It was justified? He should not be mourned? The Italians should not see him as a hero as they should because he preferred to look his killers in the eye?

    Is that what you feel? That is why you call him a mercenary? The War has happened. People will need to go in there to repair the infrastructure. If they die, it is justified? Or we should leave it for the Iraqis to sort out? At that point “wonderful peace loving people” such as yourself will have something else to moan about?

    Unbelievable! You truly are special. The world must be a better place for having anti-war people like you that have no sympathy for the death of a human being who went to work because you disagreed with the War in question. Angels in heaven must be chanting your name. The world is a better place because you are in it….I just can’t tell or see how, though. God save us from these types of peace loving people. Unbelievable!

  • Smenkharon

    That’s what God does, keeps you blind!

  • hey:

    i want angels in heaven chanting my name too.

    jack e. jett

  • Sandra Smallson

    Smenkharon, with people like you inhabiting the earth what is there to see?! “A’int” missing shit! One might say I would rather be “blind” than see what it is you are seeing. Cos God knows, from your posts, what you are seeing? No evidence that you know any better than the believers and conclusive evidence that you are not a happy camper. Move towards the light:)

  • Smenkharon

    I am a very happy camper Sandra and your derision only enhances it!

  • Sandra Smallson

    Good for you darling. In that case, I am happy to have been of some help in turning that frown upside down.