US teens jailed in Italy in policeman’s killing

Two American teens arrested in Rome over police officer's death

US tourists confess to fatal stabbing of Italian police officer

Italian military police Carabinieri have arrested two US students in connection with the killing of a policeman in central Rome, they said on Saturday.

According to Italy's Carabinieri police force, Christian Gabriel Natale Hjorth and Elder Finnegan Lee were arrested and admitted to killing 35-year-old Deputy Brig. They are said to have both been born in San Francisco in 2000.

In a statement on Saturday morning, police said that they had interrogated the two youths under the direction of the local Rome prosecutor.

Prosecutors said in the order that Elder is the main suspect, accusing him of repeatedly stabbing Carabinieri paramilitary policeman Mario Cerciello Rega, 35, who was investigating the theft of a bag after a drug deal gone wrong in Rome. Authorities believe the man they stole the bag from was not involved in the drug deal, but may have told the Americans where they could purchase drugs before he was robbed of his bag, the spokesman said. They face charges of murder and attempted extortion.

The murder happened a few meters away from a police station and in front of the Italian Court of Cassation.

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Elder's lawyer, Francesco Codini, said Elder chose not to answer questions during a Saturday hearing in the Rome jail where he and Natale Hjorth are in custody, according to the AP, which added that Natale Hjorth's lawyer was not available to comment. Their lawyers could not be immediately reached.

The Carabinieri said the Americans demanded a 100-euro ($112) ransom and a gram of cocaine to return the bag.

The owner called his own phone and one of the thieves offered to sell the bag back to him, agreeing to meet in a nearby neighbourhood.

The two officers, including Cerciello Rega, announced they were police, but Elder allegedly stabbed Cerciello Rega eight times before fleeing with Natale Hjorth, authorities said.

Italian police have launched an investigation into a shocking image that shows one of the two young Americans arrested over the killing of an Italian police officer, blindfolded at a police station in Rome.

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When the youths arrived, officer Rega approached them together with his partner officer Andrea Varriale, both in plain clothes, and they identified themselves as police and attempted to question the teens about the drug deal.

The photo was then reportedly shared in an internal police group chat.

The news of Rega's death shook Italians and has dominated headlines across the country, with early reports suggesting the murderers were North African, prompting an outpouring of anti-migrant messages on social media.

Police say they found a large knife hidden behind a ceiling panel in the Americans' hotel room, and the clothing worn during the attack.

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