Italy: Savage attack leaves Pakistani man in a coma

Rome, 30 March (AKI) - A witness of a savage attack in Rome against a Pakistani man was due to testify on Monday as police seek to identify the attackers, who fled the scene. Five Italian youths in their 20s are said to have severely beaten a Pakistani man last Monday in what investigators say was a racially-motivated attack. However, the news only surfaced on Saturday.

Mohammad Basharat, 35, the owner of a small convenience store is said to be in a coma at Rome's Policlinico Casilino after the group of young men began to savagely beat him, while his car was stopped at a red light in Rome's deprived Tor Bella Monaca district.

Reports say Basharat's friend, Naziq Mehmood Muheed, managed to keep his door locked after a young man with shaved head tried to open it. Muheed told Basharat to be calm. However, four other men arrived at the scene and tried to open his door.

Basharat then got out of his van and asked the young man what they wanted. He was then brutally punched, causing him to fall to the ground and hit his head on the pavement.

Basharat fainted but regained consciousness and was taken to the hospital. After staying in the hospital overnight, his condition worsened and suffered a severe brain haemorrhage, probably due to the beating he received.

Basharat's 38 year-old Sri Lankan partner Chandy Karunasekera , who was three months pregnant, miscarried on hearing the bad news about her husband.

"We were about to get married. Now what do I do? I am alone and I am afraid," Karunasekera told Italian daily Il Messaggero.

"My husband did not have enemies, he did not have problems with anyone."

The Pakistani immigrant has been living in Italy for 14 years, while Karunasekera has been here for 16 years.

Muheed will be shown several photos of the alleged attackers on Monday and will attempt to recognise them.

In late January, three Italian youth attacked an Indian labourer Navtej Singh Sidhu and doused him with petrol and paint and set him alight as he slept on a station bench in Nettuno, south of Rome. The three youths, aged 17, 20 and 30 kicked, punched and insulted him before they set the 35-year-old on fire.

January 2009 saw vigilante-style attacks against immigrants in Italy following several rapes allegedly perpetrated by immigrants. Last November, four youths beat up and set alight a homeless Italian man sleeping on a park bench in the northern city of Padova.

A 63-year-old Ghanaian immigrant sitting on a park bench in Milan was severely beaten last year by baseball-bat wielding thugs who shouted: "Dirty nigger, you all have to get out of Italy!"

Earlier vigilante-style attacks have occurred in central Italy, for example when a naval captain's wife was allegedly raped and murdered in Rome by a Romanian drifter in 2007.

Raids were carried out on encampments across Italy and dozens of Romanians judged to be a threat to public security were deported after the incident.


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