Eight indicted for student murder

January 16, 1998

EIGHT university employees have been indicted for the murder of Marta Russo, the 22-year-old student who was shot dead last year outside the law faculty buildings of Rome's La Sapienza University.

Two university researchers are accused of the shooting while the others are administrative staff and the dean of the law philosophy institute, who are all accused of complicity for allegedly withholding evidence or lying to the police.

The murder has prompted speculations on the prevailing climate at the faculty in particular and La Sapienza in general. Key witnesses remembered crucial evidence only a month after the event. Others contradicted themselves, while the investigating judge complained of difficulty in getting people to talk. Bruno Romano, dean of the institute, was put under house arrest for several days because investigators suspected him of ordering university staff to keep their mouths shut.

Critics were quick to accuse academics and staff of regarding the university as beyond the law. There were also unconfirmed rumours of corruption and malpractice which induced a climate of secrecy.

The investigating judge said Giovanni Scattone, with Salvatore Ferraro, fired the fatal shot with a .22 calibre gun from a lecture room window. Also there was Francesco Liparota, a doorman. All three are charged with voluntary homicide. Professor Romano and three staff, Gabriella Alletto, Maria Urilli and Maurizio Basciu, accused of having lied or withheld evidence, have been charged with complicity. The eighth defendant, student Marianna Marcucci, is alleged to have tried to provide an alibi for Mr Ferraro.

No explanation for the crime has emerged. The two researchers charged with the murder, who have already spent six months in prison, have protested their innocence. The evidence against them hinges on Ms Alletto's testimony - a month after the shooting she told investigators she saw the researchers come rushing out of the room from which the shot is supposed to have been fired.

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