Rome, Sep 12 (efe-epa).- Hundreds of people attended the funeral of Willy Monteiro on Saturday to bid a final farewell to the 21-year-old who died in a vicious attack that sent shockwaves through Italy.
Monteiro, a Black Italian of Cape Verdean heritage, was beaten to death in the town of Colleferro just south of Rome after he tried to prevent his friend from being attacked.
Four men have since been arrested in relation to the attack and prosecutors are investigating whether it was racially-motivated.
Among the crowd on Saturday was Italy’s prime minister Giuseppe Conte.
Mourners gathered outside the Paliano municipal stadium where the funeral mass was held while others lined the road to applaud the funeral procession.
Willy’s family asked mourners to wear white to reflect the youth and purity of the young man, who worked as a chef and dreamed of a career in football.
The interior minister Luciana Lamorgese and the president of the Lazio region Nicola Zingaretti, who has offered to cover the legal costs of bringing Willy’s killers to justice, were also in attendance.
After the funeral service, the prime minister embraced Willy’s mother and father and his sister.
“Italy loves this humble and hard-working family,” he said.
“We have all followed this case because of its enormous violence.
“We cannot underestimate or minimize it. It is not an isolated episode. There are fringes of society that cultivate mythology of violence and abuse.
“We all have to work with the goal of countering violence and constantly calling on the values and principles of our civilization and social life.”
Willy Monteiro Duarte died on the night of 5 September.
In the wake of the attack, four men between 22 and 26 were detained. They have been named as brothers Marco and Gabriele Bianchi, Mario Pincarelli and Francesco Belleggia.
Following the autopsy, prosecutors upgraded the charges against the men from manslaughter to homicide.
The men allegedly beat Willy for 20 minutes and prosecutors believe they intentionally killed the young man by jumping on him.
The two brothers, from the town of Artea, were known in the community for previous incidents of violence and were involved in MMA. EFE-EPA