Italians Fight U.S. Use of Death Penalty
by Jeffrey Fleishman
ROME - Like those of most American death-row inmates, the name of Derek Rocco Barnabei, convicted in 1995 of murdering his girlfriend and dumping her nude body into a murky Virginia river, has faded from headlines to near-obscurity in the United States.
An Italian American known to his buddies as Serafino, Barnabei is scheduled to be taken from his cell on Sept. 14 and given a lethal injection.
The execution will most likely warrant only a few paragraphs, maybe accompanied by a mug shot, in American newspapers.
But, 6,000 miles away, in Italy, Barnabei is a cause celebre, portrayed as a martyr trapped in an American court system bent more on vengeance than compassion.
To many Europeans, the impending execution represents a nation permeated with violence and misguided justice. Italy and most other European countries oppose capital punishment. Seventy-three nations, including all of Western Europe, have abolished the practice.
The European Union consistently sponsors resolutions at the United Nations Commission on Human Rights for a global moratorium on capital punishment. Each time a death sentence is commuted anywhere in the world, Rome celebrates by illuminating the Colosseum in gold and white.
Italians hold vigils for those facing the electric chair. Pope John Paul II pleads for mercy. Last year, Italy's Bennetton clothing chain sponsored billboards sympathetically picturing American killers in white prison uniforms.
And three years ago, in one of the more bizarre twists of anticapital-punishment fervor, the Sicilian city of Palermo chartered a plane and flew the body of an executed American murderer from Virginia for burial in a cemetery usually reserved for dukes and Mafia bosses.
The tombstone reads: "Joseph R. O'Dell 3rd, beloved husband of Lori Urs O'Dell, honorary citizen of Palermo, killed by Virginia, U.S.A., in a merciless and brutal justice system."
The Italian media, never at a loss for conjecture and hyperbole, spun a morality play around O'Dell, who was arrested in 1985 for raping, sodomizing and murdering Helen Schartner in Virginia Beach. Italian politicians and columnists argued that DNA evidence existed that would have proved O'Dell's innocence. The Virginia courts were unmoved.
Fast Forward to Today:
Italian judge orders girl, 13, to have abortion
10:28 AM CST on Tuesday, February 20, 2007
An Italian judge has ordered a 13-year-old girl from Torino to abort her unborn child because her parents were opposed to the baby, according to La Stampa newspaper.
Italian legislation states that a minor is not allowed to decide whether to abort or not and the decision falls entirely on the guardians or parents.
The paper reports that the girl didn't want to abort the baby but had to after the ruling.
The girl got pregnant by her 15-year-old boyfriend but despite this she still wanted to keep the baby.
However her parents demanded an abortion. After the abortion, the girl went into a frenzy and threatened to kill herself.
"The unborn baby is still a life and I defend life whatever the situation." Severino Poletto, Archbishop of Torino told the paper.
"Society must take of this child. I certainly oppose abortions but this case allows us to reflect on the situation. We have to take a step back and ask ourselves how this could have happened to a 13-year-old girl." he added.
It is so nice to know the Italian people and their government have their priorities straight, when it comes to justice for the innocent. It's too bad the people in the U.S. don't share all of that wonderful European enlightenment. We are just a pack of backwater conservative fossils, who have yet to learn how to apply the reciprocal of morality to our every day life.