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22.10.2008 Diaspora (Italy)

Ghana calls for inquest into 6 Ghanaians killed in Italy

By Reggie Tagoe in Verona, Italy.

The Ghana Government is demanding explanation and investigation from the Italian Government into the case of six Ghanaians killed in Italy last month.

This was disclosed by His Excellency Charles Agyei-Amoama, Ghana's Ambassador to Italy, when he met the Council of Ghana Nationals Association in Italy (COGNAI) at a meeting in Verona, north of Italy.

Ambassador Agyei-Amoama informed the Council members he has personally been to Castel Volturno in the Italian southern city of Naples where the incident happened and together with some officials of the Ghana Embassy in Rome met the city authorities and the Police Chief on the death of the victims and also paid a visit to the only survivor in the incident who is recuperating in hospital. He said a report was sent to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Ghana about the gruesome murder of the six Ghanaians who were shot in a shop. Explaining further, based on information he had on his trip, the Ambassador told the Council members the initial report on the killings said three Ghanaians and three other African nationals were shot in a shop owned by one Ghanaian, who was among those killed. But it has been established all the six were Ghanaians.

He denied reports that the victims were linked to drug trafficking as reported by the press and pointed out they were Ghanaians in the city who have been going about their normal duties. Giving details of the story, he mentioned that the six happened to be in the shop when three gunmen wearing jackets written, 'Polizia' (Police), entered and started shooting continuously, killing five customers and the shop owner. The seventh person survived because he was shot in the leg and arm, the gunmen thought he was dead as he fell down on the other victims. According to him a number of people have been arrested relating to the shootings.

There has been unconfirmed reports the killings was the work of the Italian mafia in Naples known as 'Camorra' and still unsubstantiated, it is believed the shop owner refused to pay a special tax to the group.

Ambassador Agyei-Amoama stated Ghana requested for the official investigation into the matter through the Italian Ambassador to Ghana. The Honourable Ghanaian Statesman who spoke for about 45 minutes told the Council members wherever he goes in Italy to meet city officials he's been told Ghanaians are hardworking and conduct themselves well in the society therefore the recent incidents of attacks on Ghanaians in Italy has come as a surprise expressing his sorrow on hearing about the incident in Naples. He also informed the Council his office is closely following the case where a Ghanaian alleged he was brutally beaten by the Italian Municipal Police in the city Parma.

The Ambassador who decided to use the opportunity of the COGNAI meeting in Verona to meet its representatives on issues relating to Ghanaians in Italy in recent times again indicated contrary to comments that the Ghana Embassy in Rome has been quiet on the incidents in Naples and Parma, it's been working hard on both cases through diplomatic processes and called for restraint as investigations continues to be carried out. Some of the Council members earlier argued they had expected the Ghana Embassy in Rome or for that matter the Ghana Government to take a much tougher approach on the incidents against recent happenings to Ghanaians in Italy and should have issued a press statement.

In his address, Ambassador Agyei-Amoama further pointed out he has officially requested the Naples authorities to foot the bills of sending the bodies of the six victims to Ghana and pay for all the funeral expenses. Compensation to the families he said is still being worked out as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Ghana takes up the matter.

The Council at its sitting, headed by its President, Omari Somuah, conclusively resolved to send a protest letter about the recent attacks on Ghanaians in the country to Italy's Minister of Internal Affairs, Roberto Maroni, and request a meeting with him.

It also brought before the meeting other issues, among them a national workshop program for leaders of the Ghanaian communities in Italy and voluntary repatriation of the Ghanaian in Italy – a project being initiated by the Italian Council for Refugees, for which Ghanaians in Italy who want to voluntarily go back home to Ghana in view of not having the necessary staying permit documents, not finding a job, for reasons of age or illness and wants to go home to be with their family or wants to relocate to Ghana to settle. The General Secretary of COGNAI, Gilbert Abasimi, briefing members of the Council on the project said it's still in the initial stages and the Italian Council for Refugees is collecting the necessary data on those who will be interested to apply before consulting the European Commission who will co-finance the project by paying some amount for the resettlement. He pointed out questionnaires on the program can be obtained from the Secretariat of COGNAI or from the office of Council for Refugees in Italy explaining immigrants from three African countries in Italy - Cameroun, Egypt and Ghana - have been chosen and they can apply during the first phase of the project when modalities of the program is completed.

The Council further discussed the Miss Ghana beauty contest to be hosted in Brescia. The date for the pageant has been rescheduled from November 8 to December 6 as organisers continue look for more sponsors.

It's the second meeting of COGNAI this year and almost all the 20 Ghanaians Associations in Italy were represented.

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