Mario Paciolla, the prosecutors of Rome: 'It was suicide'. The doubts and complaints of the parents remain

Request for the closure of the investigation into the death of the Italian aid worker in Colombia. But the family doesn't agree and doesn't believe the official reconstructions. Here is the interview with Oggi which reported the current case

  paciolla Mario Paciolla died in 2020, he was 33 years old

The Rome Public Prosecutor's Office has requested the closure of the investigation into the death of Mario Paciolla, the Neapolitan aid worker found dead in his lodgings in Colombia in July 2020. Paciolla was found hanged, in his home in San Vicente del Caguan, where he was UN collaborator in a peace project between the local government and the former Farc guerrillas. For the Roman magistrates, therefore, it was suicide, but since the discovery of the lifeless body, the boy's parents have had doubts and suspicions about the correct conduct of the investigations by the Colombian authorities, as they explained in August in the interview with Andrea Purgatori for Today , which we republish here.

Chanel Totti and the catchphrase with dad Francesco in the super villa Chanel Totti and the catchphrase with dad Francesco in the super villa

THE INTERVIEW - Mario Paciolla was found hanged from a sheet on July 20, 2020 at his home in San Vicente, 500 kilometers south of Bogota, Colombia. He was born in Naples, he was 33 years old. For four years he had worked for the United Nations mission in charge of verifying the peace accords between the government and the revolutionary armed forces. The UN dismisses the case as a suicide. But the autopsy carried out in Italy shows evident signs of possible torture and opens up the hypothesis of 'strangulation with subsequent suspension of the body'. According to some Colombian newspapers, Mario would have been eliminated for having worked on the report on an army bombing in which seven innocent boys had lost their lives, a report that cost Defense Minister Guillermo Botero his resignation. Although this hypothesis has never been confirmed, it seems certain that Mario's house was cleaned up by the UN security chief, who made the young man's personal belongings somehow connected to the murder disappear. And after two years of pollution. Anna and Pino Paciolla, Mario's parents, with their two sisters and a host of friends, with the assistance of the lawyer Alessandra Ballerini who is also the lawyer for Giulio Regeni's family, denounced the United Nations which continues to respond with a 'rubber wall' to every request for truth, as Anna Paciolla says. And the story of the red herrings that cover up Mario's crime seems increasingly the same that is burying the cases of Ilaria Alpi and Giulio Regeni. What remains today? Two other parents who are fighting against the international institution that should protect human rights in Colombia. Therefore, also the right of the Paciolla family to have definitive answers on the death of their son.

Anna and Pino, how do they warn you about Mario's death? Who? When? «At 18.30 of the same day, with a call from a Colombian number. A woman, who qualifies as a UN lawyer, says she has some bad news to tell us. The news is that Mario is dead. And after a few hours, without any autoptic certainty, they let us know that it is suicide. But this is nothing. Because cynically they even ask us if we want the return of his body.'

Already in November of the previous year, Mario had expressed fear for his stay in the UN mission. What was he referring to? “We had noticed a certain discontent. He had confided in us that if the UN wanted to involve him in something, which he didn't tell us, however, he would have let them go. Several times he had asked for a transfer from that area and from that team but he had never been satisfied ».

Had he informed you of the very delicate work he was carrying out, of the report on the bombing by the Colombian army that cost the lives of seven boys, which had then forced the defense minister to resign? 'No. He was very private as far as work was concerned. We knew he was running risks, but we never expected them to go inside his house to kill him ».

When they find the body, the scene is cleared of anything useful to the investigation. Personal effects disappear or are destroyed. What has been returned to you by the UN and what are you sure is missing? “They returned a suitcase with some clothes to us. Due to the meticulousness with which they were arranged, we had no doubt that he had prepared it. Above there was a small painting with a magnet definitely intended for us, since he used to give us these small objects when he returned from the places he visited. There was an anti-Covid mask in the colors of the panda, certainly for his sister Paola. Then we were also given a box containing some muddy work shoes, various furnishings that she had at home, books. All in bulk, with a handwritten inventory on the carton. There was also a rucksack that he was preparing for his departure with money taken the day before, some cigarettes and items for the journey. Surely all the agendas of him are missing. Mario wrote down thoughts, encounters, poems, stories. Everything, in the details. Of the four years he lived there in Colombia, not a single note was returned to us.'

The version that arrives immediately speaks of suicide. But on 20 July, five days later, Mario was supposed to board a UN plane to return to Italy and he had already bought the ticket. What was the sequence of your talks with him in the last 48 hours? «The Saturday before his death, Mario contacts us in the late afternoon. At an unusual time compared to the usual telephone interviews. He is worried, he tells us that he has had discussions with some members of the mission. His tone is so alarmed that we immediately send him a message in which we explicitly ask him if he feels his life is in danger and if the UN can help him. He, feeling agitated, calms us down. But in the following days we hear from each other very often, which is unusual for our habits. Mario was nervous and on the advice of a senior colleague he had decided to leave the mission and return to Italy. He was concerned that the documents needed to leave on a humanitarian flight would not arrive in time due to the pandemic. Then he informs us that he would not have made it back on the flight on July 17 because he was missing some visas and he would have left Bogota on the 20th with a stopover in Paris. He also tells us that, once at home in his small apartment in Naples, he would have observed a period of quarantine asking us to fill his fridge with the foods he liked best. At midnight on July 14th he gives us confirmation of the purchase of the plane ticket. And at 6 on the same day we write him a message with some recommendations on how to face the journey in safety. But Mario will never read that message, because the next day they find him dead. The only ones who knew of his hasty departure were those for whom he worked: the UN ».

What contacts do you have with the Colombian authorities, the UN and the Farnesina? «After the first moments of apparent closeness from the Foreign Ministry, no one. The Speaker of the Chamber Roberto Fico took an interest in the matter and the Director for Italians Abroad of the Farnesina, Luigi Vignali, expressed his solidarity. But with the Colombian government and the UN, no more contact'.

Who was the first to express doubts about the causes of Mario's death, a suicide according to the UN investigation and the Colombian authorities? «We parents and all the people who have crossed paths with Mario's life have never believed in the thesis of suicide put forward by the UN and initially by the Colombians. Our son loved life, he had very short-term projects and no reason to kill himself with a plane ticket in his pocket and his suitcase ready a few hours before leaving for Naples, his city, where we and the friends he loved were waiting for him».

Have you talked to Mario's colleagues? 'Unfortunately not. The team was immediately broken up and moved out of San Vicente. And this is precisely what we regret: the absolute silence of people who have worked side by side with our son and claimed to be his friends. It would be very serious if they hadn't noticed Mario's worries, this indifference would somehow make them accomplices of death».

The autopsy carried out in Colombia corroborated the official thesis of suicide. The one in Italy brings out a completely different version: that Mario was even tortured and then killed by simulating a hanging. «We can say nothing about the autopsies, covered by the secrecy of the investigation. We hope that this trickle of indiscretions will soon stop because it does not help the investigation and aggravates our pain. We have faith in the work of the Prosecutor's Office and of the Ros who are investigating, in a collaboration that seems active with the Colombian authorities. What baffles us is the rubber wall by the UN, which has never followed up on our requests. Yet they are there to protect human rights and now they should protect the right to truth and justice for Mario's death'.

You denounced the UN, why? «Because it is unlikely that the UN security chief Christian Thompson and his superior Juan Vasquez were not aware of the protocols in the event of the death of one of their employees. The first entered Mario's house by himself for thirty minutes before the arrival of the agents, polluting the crime scene and taking objects that belonged to our son. And after two days, Thompson again went to the house to clean it with bleach, throwing everything that was part of the crime scene into a landfill, making all traces useful for the investigation into Mario's murder disappear. Consequently, in addition to the two of them, we have also reported the four police officers who allowed this very serious act, considering all six of them involved in the concealment of the evidence'.