Residents of Parma in Italy have marched in memory of an Italian toddler whose kidnap and murder have shocked the nation. Pope Benedict and President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi are among those who expressed their horror. Police found the body of 18-month-old Tommaso Onofri on Saturday night, a month after he was snatched from his parents’ house near Parma.
On Sunday, a minute’s silence was observed in football stadiums across the country. At one game fans echoed calls by some politicians for the death penalty to be reinstated for the kidnappers. Tommaso, who had epilepsy and needed anti-convulsive medicines, was taken by two masked men who tied up his parents at their farmhouse. They later made tearful appearances on television telling the kidnappers how to give Tomasso the drugs he needed twice a day. The Pope, politicians and various celebrities appealed for the toddler’s release. So did Mario Alessi, a builder who had worked at the Onofri family home.But he was arrested along with his partner and another man, and on Saturday he reportedly led police to the boy’s body. He reportedly said Tommaso was killed hours after his abduction; he was hit with a shovel to stop him crying. Italian radio said the kidnappers had planned to demand a ransom, presumably from savings accounts at a post office where Tomasso’s father worked.