Beniamino Zuncheddu was released by the Rome City Court after 33 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. The now-elderly Sardinian shepherd was sentenced to life in prison for killing three members of a rival family in the countryside of Cagliari in the so-called “Sinnai massacre.”. The son-in-law of one of those killed, Luigi Pinna, 29, although seriously injured, was the only survivor of the attack, making him the only witness to the horrific event. Pinna accused Zuncheddu of being responsible for the events, and it was not until three decades later that he admitted that his statement was influenced by the police.
“They stole everything from me.”
The prosecutor general of the case, Francesco Piantoni, already questioned the credibility of Pinna’s testimony at the time, but the fact that Zuncheddu was part of a family that had various disputes with those killed in the weeks before the massacre and that he who was identified by the only visual witness was too heavy a burden on the guardian’s innocence. The slab that took 33 years to break and from which an old man came out is very different from the one who entered the prison when he was almost 27 years old. “I want to have a family, build something, and be a free citizen like everyone else. 30 years ago, I was young; now I am old. They stole everything from me. Now I will rest, even mentally,” Zuncheddu told the press.
Influence of the police
The almost 33 years Zuncheddu spent behind bars made the case the longest miscarriage of justice in the history of the Italian Republic. The Prosecutor’s Office requested a review of the case after Pinna admitted in statements that “before” identifying the suspects, the police officer leading the investigation “showed him a “photo of Zuncheddu” and told him he “”was the cause of the massacre. ” “I was wrong to listen to the wrong person,” Pinna admitted. Everything seems to point to an attempt by the police to solve a simple case: a fight between families, an enemy of the murdered as the main suspect; what is missing is a witness to know him so that the case can be completely solved and ready to be sent to the superiors. At the time of Pinna’s false accusation statement, Zuncheddu was already arrested by the police.
Zuncheddu has always declared himself innocent, although he was offered a reduced sentence if he admitted his guilt, as he himself declared when he was released from prison. The “expiatory” sentence was issued on Friday night, after several hours of deliberation, but Zuncheddu has been enjoying his freedom since November 25, when the court temporarily suspended the sentence until it was approved by the court. Numerous testimonies indicate that the investigation was manipulated by an agent. Many residents of the island of Sardinia went to the court in Rome to celebrate the decision with Zuncheddu. “It is the end of a nightmare,” he declared to the media after hearing the sentence.
An innocent person is imprisoned every 8 hours
According to the Innocence Project, an American NGO, in the last 32 years in Italy, there have been 30,778 victims of miscarriages of justice and unjustified detentions. This means that every day in Italy, three innocent people are imprisoned. These mistakes have cost the state a total of 933 million euros in reparations. What is not clear is how to measure the price of freedom. You can go from grams to liters, but from hours to euros? How do you make up for lost time? Who knows how much a week, a year, or half a life is worth?