Italy: Transsexual may have been 'silenced'

Rome, 20 Nov. (AKI) - Italian politicians have raised doubts about whether the death of a transsexual prostitute at the centre of a major sex, drugs and extortion scandal was a suicide. The Brazilian prostitute, known as Brenda, was found dead after a fire broke out at her apartment in northern Rome early Friday.

The transsexual was allegedly involved with Piero Marrazzo, who resigned as governor of the Lazio region surrounding the Italian capital, when news of their relationship broke in October.

"Evidently, someone wanted to silence her to prevent her from saying what she knew," said Paolo Ferrero, secretary-general of Italy's Communisty Refoundation Party.

"It is clear that not only Marrazzo frequented Via Gradoli (the address of Brenda's apartment).

The deputy president of the centre-left Italy of Values party Fabio Evangelisti said that criminal organisations linked to government institutions could have taken part in Brenda's death.

"It is evident that the hand of criminal organisations is behind this intrigue," said Evangelisti. "I do not exclude the responsibility of people within government institutions or with links to them."

The regional councillor of the Lazio region Alessio D'Amato, from the main opposition Democratic Party said that the transsexual's death was an "obscure event, worthy of a thriller by (Swedish writer) Stieg Larsson".

Media reports said that Brenda had suffocated from smoke inhalation and her body was not charred.

Investigators said that Brenda's laptop computer had been submerged in water before the fire.

Questions have been raised about whether the computer was submerged to prevent it from being destroyed in the fire, or that someone wanted to destroy the contents of the computer's hard drive.

As speculation continued about the prostitute's fate, Italy's interior minister Roberto Maroni on Friday declined to comment on Brenda's death.

Meanwhile, Rome's transsexuals said they feared for their lives after the prostitute was found dead.

Transsexuals in the area rejected claims that Brenda committed suicide.

Brenda made headlines after allegedly having more than one sexual encounter with the former governor of the Lazio region Piero Marrazzo in an extortion, sex and drugs scandal, which led to the governor's resignation in October.

Authorities are treating the case as murder, court sources said.


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