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Three arrested for murder of teenage girl in Rome

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Three arrested for murder of teenage girl in Rome
A tribute to Desirée Mariottini outside the abandoned building where she was found in the San Lorenzo district. Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP
16:42 CEST+02:00
Three men have been arrested in relation to the murder of Desirée Mariottini, the 16-year-old girl found dead in Rome last week.

Two Senegalese nationals aged 26 and 43 were reportedly held overnight.  A third suspect, a 40-year-old Nigerian, was detained today.

The three are expected to be charged with group sexual violence, voluntary manslaughter and drug dealing. All three are reported to have previous convictions for drug dealing.

Police in Rome are still hunting at least one other suspect, local media reports.

Mariottini was found dead in a derelict building used as a squat in San Lorenzo. The central Rome district is known for its student nightlife, but also for drug dealing.

Investigators believe Desiree was drugged and then gang raped while unconscious before she died. 

Though the exact circumstances and cause of the teenager’s death are yet to be confirmed, an autopsy revealed that she had been under the influence of drugs and had been sexually assaulted.

An anonymous call was made to emergency services at 3am on the 19th of October, local media reported.

Flowers and candles have been laid outside the building in a tribute to Mariottini, and local residents have painted the walls with red hearts and the words ‘Justice for Desirée. San Lorenzo does not forget you’

"Now I want justice for Desiree. I don't want this tragedy to happen to other girls," said the victim's mother, Barbara Mariottini, at her home in Cisterna di Latina, south of Rome.

The Mayor of Rome, Virginia Raggi, has announced a day of mourning for the city to coincide with Mariottini’s funeral. The date has yet to be announced.

On Twitter she announced that Rome would be 'stepping up controls' in San Lorenzo and raising the drinking age. She also said squats in other areas would soon be demolished.

Interior Minister Matteo Salvini was quick to seize on the murder case, criticising Rome's local government and threatening to have part of the area bulldozed.

He visited the scene of the crime twice yesterday, with protesters preventing him from entering the building.

Even before the Senegalese men were arrested as suspects, he was already using the case to promote his fight against illegal immigration.

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