TIME

Knox’s Ex-Beau: Evidence Points to My Innocence

Raffaele Sollecito at Knox trial
Raffaele Sollecito leaves after attending a press conference in Rome, Tuesday, July 1, 2014. Riccardo De Luca—AP

Raffaele Sollecito, the Italian who had been dating American student Amanda Knox less than a week before the murder and sexual assault of Knox's housemate Meredith Kercher, said that Knox has provided him with alibis. And he doesn't think that Knox is guilty either

ROME — Amanda Knox’s former Italian boyfriend said Tuesday the American student provided alibis for him that he will use to try to persuade Italy’s court of last resort to dismiss his conviction for the murder of her British roommate.

Raffaele Sollecito hopes the Court of Cassation will rule he deserves yet another trial and throw out the 25-year sentence he received in January from a Florence appeals court, which convicted both him and Knox for the 2007 murder of Meredith Kercher, 21.

His lawyers will stress apparent contradictions in the Florence court’s 337-page verdict explanation.

That court signaled it believed a memo Knox wrote, while being held for questioning, in which she indicates Sollecito had no role in the murder.

“She herself lets me off the hook and gives me an alibi,” Sollecito, 30, said. He noted the court accepted findings that a Knox text message, shortly before the murder, to the owner of a Perugia pub where she worked, had been sent while outside Sollecito’s house.

Yet he insisted he wasn’t trying to pin the murder on the American.

Flanked by his lawyers in Rome, he stressed what he described as his steadfast belief in the innocence of Knox, whom he had been dating for barely a week when Kercher was slain in Perugia, Italy.

Kercher was sexually assaulted and stabbed multiple times. Her half-naked body was found in her bedroom.

“I want to make clear that I and all the people around me, including my family, have always believed, and we still believe today, in the innocence of Amanda Marie Knox.”

The Florence court sentenced Knox to 28 ½ years in prison. The 26-year-old, who has repeatedly proclaimed her innocence, has been in America since an earlier court ruling, in 2011, acquitted both her and Sollecito.

TIME World Cup

Suarez Apologizes for Biting Opponent at World Cup

RIO DE JANEIRO — Luis Suarez has issued an apology to Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini for biting him during a World Cup match and vowed never to do it again.

The Uruguay striker says in a statement posted on Twitter on Monday that “I deeply regret what occurred,” and that “the truth is that my colleague Giorgio Chiellini suffered the physical result of a bite in the collision he suffered with me.”

Suarez was banned from all football for four months after the incident, which occurred during Uruguay’s 1-0 win over Italy in their group-stage game in Brazil. He had denied wrongdoing in a statement to FIFA, saying he simply collided with Chiellini’s shoulder.

Suarez apologized to Chiellini and “the entire football family,” and said “I vow to the public that there will never again be another incident like (this).”

 

TIME

Italy Navy Finds 30 Corpses in Migrant Boat

ROME — The bodies of some 30 would-be migrants were found in the hold of a packed smugglers’ boat making its way to Italy, the latest deaths in a surge of immigration to Europe, the Italian navy said Monday.

The boat was carrying nearly 600 people, and the remaining 566 survivors were rescued by the navy frigate Grecale and were headed to the port at Pozzallo, on the southern tip of Sicily. Overall during the weekend, the navy said it rescued more than 5,000 migrants, adding to the nearly 60,000 people who have made their way to Italy since the beginning of the year, compared with 42,000 in all of 2013.

Most are African or Middle Eastern refugees who pay hundreds or thousands of euros each to smugglers in Libya who pack them into unsafe fishing vessels for the crossing. Officials say the numbers have swelled this year due to the increasing instability in Libya.

The 30 corpses were discovered in the bow area of the boat during the rescue operation, according to a navy statement. The victims were believed to have suffocated or drowned during the crossing. Initial news reports said the migrants had suffocated because they were packed in so tightly. It wasn’t clear if the boat was taking in water when it was rescued.

Italy beefed up its sea rescue operations last October after a migrant boat capsized off the Sicilian island of Lampedusa, killing more than 360 people. Italy has insisted that the European Union should shoulder more of the cost and burden of the rescue operations and says it will use its EU presidency starting Tuesday to press its case. Italy says it spends 9.5 million euro ($13 million) a month to operate the sea and air patrols.

The EU’s home affairs commissioner, Cecilia Malmstrom, said in a statement Monday that the commission was preparing a plan to fight and dismantle the smuggling networks at their places of origin. She said the commission was making some 4 million euros ($5.45 million) available to Italy as emergency assistance to deal with the onslaught, though it was not clear if that is in addition to the 30 million euro in EU funds promised after the Lampedusa tragedy.

TIME World Cup

Suarez Bite Victim Calls Penalty ‘Excessive’

Italy's Giorgio Chiellini shows his shoulder, claiming he was bitten by Uruguay's Luis Suarez, during their 2014 World Cup Group D soccer match at the Dunas arena in Natal, Brazil on June 24, 2014.
Italy's Giorgio Chiellini shows his shoulder, claiming he was bitten by Uruguay's Luis Suarez, during their 2014 World Cup Group D soccer match at the Dunas arena in Natal, Brazil on June 24, 2014. Tony Gentile—Reuters

Less than a week after being bitten during a World Cup match by Uruguay forward Luis Suarez, Italian defender Giorigo Chiellini appears ready to move on.

“Now inside me there’s no feelings of joy, revenge or anger against Suarez for an incident that happened on the pitch and that’s done,” Chilleni wrote on his Facebook page Friday. “I have always considered unequivocal the disciplinary interventions by the competent bodies, but at the same time I believe that the proposed formula is excessive.”

The bite, viewed live by millions of viewers worldwide, provoked a wide range of opinions, including many who argued for harsh penalties. FIFA, the organization that oversees international soccer, ultimately banned Suarez from competition for four months and fined him more than $100,000.

MONEY Odd Spending

Betting on a Luis Suarez Bite: 167 Gamblers Cash In

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ASSOCIATED PRESS

The odds were 175 to 1 that Uruguay's Luis Suarez would bite somebody during the World Cup. Some 167 gamblers were a lot happier than Italy that Suarez couldn't keep his mouth shut

World Cup news on Tuesday was dominated by an incident in the Italy-Uruguay match, in which the notorious star Uruguay striker Luis Suarez—known for making racist remarks and more than one biting episode on the pitch—apparently bit Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini, a split second before Suarez himself took a pathetic dive, pretending to be hurt.

The bite unleashed a stream of inevitable memes on social media, and even some of the world’s big brands jumped into the action. Snickers, for instance, suggested that its candy bars are “More Satisfying Than Italian” on Twitter, while a Bud Light Tweet showed a Suarez-like set of teeth biting off a cap on the bottle of beer with the words “Relax, they’re twist off.”

The minor league Fort Worth Vaqueros soccer team, meanwhile, has announced a Luis Suarez “Fangs Night” for its match on Sunday, June 29. The first 50 fans that show up to the barbecue before the game receive a free set of plastic vampire fangs—and anyone who arrives with their own fangs gets free admission.

More than 150 gamblers are cashing in on the controversy in a more direct way. It turns out that among the many weird and quirky prop bets concerning the World Cup, one involved the likelihood of Uruguay’s Luis Suarez biting someone during the course of the tournament. A gambling site based in Norway called Bettson offered 175-to-1 odds on Suarez taking a chomp out of an opponent (or perhaps even a teammate, I suppose).

And according to ESPN, 167 gamblers took that bet. One Norwegian showed a photo of his bet on his smartphone: The wager of 32 kroner (a little more than $5) paid off to the tune of 5,600 kroner ($912). The biggest winner came away with roughly $3,300, thanks to Suarez’s apparent inability to control his hunger in the match.

TIME World Cup

The Bite Heard ‘Round the World

Uruguay's star striker Luis Suárez isank his teeth into opponent Giorgio Chiellini during a World Cup match that sent the Italy team home in defeat. The chomp was not even Suárez's first during professional play

TIME Religion

What It Really Means for Pope Francis to Excommunicate the Mob

Italy Pope
Pope Francis celebrates a Mass in Sibari, southern Italy on June 21, 2014. Alessandra Tarantino—AP

Why the Pope took sides against the Family

Pope Francis used the e-word against the mob for the first time this weekend.

The Holy Father was celebrating mass on Saturday in Calabria, a mob-heavy region in southern Italy, when he deviated from his prepared remarks and announced that the mafia are excommunicated. “Those who go down the evil path, as the Mafiosi do, are not in communion with God. They are excommunicated,” he said. The thousands who had gathered underneath the hot sun cheered.

Calabria is home to the ‘Ndrangheta, a global drug trafficking syndicate. Reports suggest that the group turns over $72 billion per year in the cocaine trade and uses that wealth to entice young people in the region—where the unemployment rate is 50% or higher—to work for it. Last week Pope Francis also reaffirmed his position against recreational drug use and the drug trade.

Francis has condemned corporate financial sins throughout his papacy, particularly for their socio-economic consequences. His pronouncement on Saturday yet again shows how seriously he takes those consequences.

“When adoration of the Lord is substituted by adoration of money, the road to sin opens to personal interest…Your land, which so beautiful, knows the signs of the consequences of this sin,” Francis explained. “The ‘ndrangheta is this: adoration of evil and contempt of the common good. This evil must be fought, must be expelled. It must be told no.”

Pope Francis’ pronouncement was the strongest censure of the mafia so far in his papacy, or in any of his predecessors’ papacies. Excommunication does not mean that a person is banned from the church, but it is a public recognition by church authorities that a person is no longer part of the Catholic community. Technically excommunication means the excommunicated party has chosen to separate him or herself from the church through their own un-Catholic choices. The Pope doesn’t excommunicate, but people excommunicate themselves by their behavior. Excommunication also does not mean a person is denied from heaven and the afterlife (that’s “anathema”)—one’s baptism is still effectual, meaning it still carries its sacramental worth.

Excommunication is usually reserved for grave offenses, and some sins incur automatic excommunication. These traditionally include abortion (the woman who has it and all accomplices), apostasy (total repudiation of Christian faith), heresy (obstinate denial of doctrine), schism (refusing to submit to the Pope and church community), violating the sacred species (throwing away/desecrating elements of Eucharist), physically attacking the pope, consecrating a bishop without Vatican’s authorization, sacramentally absolving an accomplice in a sexual sin, and violating the seal of confession.

Francis is building on a theme of his papacy that financial behavior deserves equal scrutiny and attention as often-hyped sexual sins. Often people think of excommunication as a consequence for an individual, but the Pope’s words were a reminder that communities can sin too—and that a group’s financial behavior affect society as a whole, sometimes violently. Love of money and violent or dishonest behavior are right up there with abortion in his mind. It is another reason Francis has also been working to reform the scandal-plagued Vatican bank, the Institute for Religious Works, and that he has condemned the “idolatry of money” and unfettered capitalism as a “new tyranny.”

Life together, Pope Francis is reminding the world, is at the core of the Catholic message. That’s why excommunication means something. When someone is excommunicated, they are ex-communion, out of communion, and they cannot participate in the sacrament of Eucharist, a public action by a group of people setting themselves apart for the Christian life.

Will priests start denying members of the mafia the bread and wine? That remains to be seen, and it would likely be a risky decision. Francis appears unabashed. He’s preaching a bigger message: reconciliation and societal change. Even excommunication is not the end of relationship with the church. The same day, Pope Francis reminded a group of prisoners that God always forgives, meaning that reunion is always possible. “The Lord is a master at rehabilitation,” he said. “He takes us by the hand and brings us back into the social community. The Lord always forgives, always accompanies, always understands; it is up to us to let ourselves be understood, forgiven and accompanied.”

Whether the mafia listens to that message is another matter.

TIME Italy

Boat Migrants Risk Everything for a New Life in Europe

Photographer Massimo Sestini accompanied the Italian navy on its rescue missions earlier this month, offering a rare up-close glimpse of the men, women and children who make the dangerous trip to start a new life

Eight months after a boat carrying hundreds of migrants sank off the coast of Lampedusa, killing more than 360 people and spurring an international outcry, the flow of migrants risking the perilous sea journey to Europe shows no signs of letting up.

Already this year, the number of migrants arriving by boat on Italy’s shores has surpassed 40,000, the total number of migrants that arrived in 2013. Earlier this month, Italy said it rescued some 5,200 people in the span of just four days. Officials there warn that many more will die without broader support from across Europe.

Tens of thousands of refugees and migrants make the journey to Europe annually, departing from dozens of countries in Africa and the Middle East, according to the European Parliament. In recent years, Syrians fleeing the civil war in their country have joined the ranks of Eritreans, Sudanese and Somalis looking for a better life, the UN said in April.

On World Refugee Day, June 20, TIME is publishing a collection of images from photographer Massimo Sestini, who accompanied the Italian navy on its rescue missions earlier this month. The shots depict the treacherous conditions in which tens of thousands of migrants and refugees attempt the crossing, packed in rickety motorboats with limited supplies. But they also reveal, in a manner rarely seen, the human faces of some of the men, women and children who risk everything to make it to Europe.

After the tragedy off of Lampedusa, Italy began a naval mission dubbed “Mare Nostrum,” Latin for “Our Sea,” to patrol the waters. The operation has rescued some 30,000 people, but officials in Italy and Greece are calling for support in the face of this summer’s expected calm seas and warmer weather, when journeys are likely to jump. Italian Interior Minister Angelino Alfano warned earlier this week that Italy might not be able to afford to continue Mare Nostrum without EU support.

Last month, Enzo Bianco, Mayor of Sicily’s Catania, condemned Europe’s “deafening silence” at a funeral for 17 migrants who died off the coast of Libya, the Guardian reported. “Faced with these coffins, Europe must choose [whether to] bury our consciences of civilized men along with them,” he said.

TIME World

Some Guy Hit Up a Town Called Bra to Steal All the Bras

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Getty Images

Makes sense

A man who probably has a pretty low level of emotional maturity but a pretty great sense of humor went to the Italian town of Bra to steal a bunch of bras. Yup.

The 28-year-old, from nearby Pocopaglia, carried out a series of balcony raids, making off with loads of undergarments, The Local reports. Police apparently found that he had “a house full” of them. That’s a pretty vague measurement, but even if his house is tiny, that still sounds like a whole lot of bras.

Though this is the first incident of bra thievery to occur in Bra itself, it’s not the first to occur in Italy. Last year, a 74-year-old man was arrested for stealing 17 bras — but those were from a supermarket, not from ladies’ balconies.

As for this latest bra heist, we can only assume that he’s actually planning a grand international stunt wherein he’ll crisscross the globe, visiting funny-named towns and stealing the nominal items. We have a feeling his next stop will be the town of Dildo.

(h/t Jezebel)

TIME World Cup

This Porn Star Won’t Have Sex Until Italy Returns From the World Cup

"Chiambretti Night" Italian TV Show - February 4, 2012
Rocco Siffredi appears on the Chiambretti Night Italian TV show in Milan on Feb. 4, 2012 Stefania D'Alessandro—Getty Images

Rocco Siffredi says sex really doesn’t compare with the collective orgasm that comes with winning on football's biggest stage

Animals are being trusted with prophecy, and one of Italy’s most popular porn stars is refraining from sex — all in the name of football. Welcome to World Cup 2014!

Italian adult-film star Rocco Siffredi has pledged to refrain from sexual intercourse to support his national team during its stint in Brazil, according to a video published on the porn star’s Facebook fan page.

“Guys, I’ve had thousands of orgasms, but there is one I will never forget. The one I had together with all of you. Do you remember when we won the World Cup in 2006?” said Siffredi in the video. “So for that collective orgasm [to happen again] I am prepared to go without my orgasms.”

Italy is currently competing in the tournament’s Group D and play England in their first match on Saturday evening, local time.

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