WARNING: Distressing content
A horrifying scene has unfolded in Italy when an angry customer allegedly beat to death a Nigerian street seller while bystanders filmed the incident but did not step in to help.
Italian police have announced that they have arrested a 32-year-old man on suspicion of murder and robbery over the death of Nigerian man Alika Ogorchukwu on Friday local time.
Mr Ogorchukwu, 39, with an Italian wife and two kids, is reported to have been selling products on the main strip of Civitanova Marche, a beach town close to Rome, when a couple approached him.
After an exchange of words the male customer became enraged and an attack ensued.
Video shows Mr Ogorchukwu’s assailant straddling him in the attack.
Although onlookers filmed the incident and called the police, it does not appear anyone tried to intervene physically.
By the time police arrived, the attacker had run away, taking the victim’s phone with him.
Authorities tried to treat Mr Ogorchukwu at the scene however it was too late as he succumbed to his injuries. Police released an image that showed the body being covered in a blanket on an Italian street.
His wife, revealed to be Charity Oriachi, told local media she cried as she was shown his body on the ground.
An autopsy report will determine if he died from blunt force trauma or suffocation.
At a press conference, lead investigator Matteo Luconi said, “The aggressor went after the victim, first hitting him with a crutch. He made him fall to the ground, then he finished, causing the death, striking repeatedly with his bare hands.”
Local media have reported that the alleged murderer became infuriated because Mr Ogorchukwu told the man’s companion she was beautiful.
“Bella, can you buy some handkerchiefs or give me one euro,” he reportedly said.
Daniel Amanza, who runs the ACSIM association for immigrants in the Marche region’s Macerata province, said, “This compliment killed him”.
After Mr Ogorchukwu made the comment, the woman’s partner allegedly grabbed Mr Ogorchukwu’s crutch and proceeded to beat him with it.
The street vendor reportedly had a crutch because he was hit by a car and his injuries made it difficult to continue working as a labourer.
His attacker has been identified as an Italian man called Filippo Claudio Giuseppe Ferlazzo.
The brutal incident has also sparked a spate of racial protests, with hundreds of people outraged that this could be allowed to happen in broad daylight with no intervention.
The day after Mr Ogorchukwu’s death, hundreds of people marched through the streets of Civitanova Marche calling for justice.
The incident comes as Italy has a federal election looming and its far-right coalition has already made race and immigration an electoral issue.
Enrico Letta, the leader of the left-wing Democratic Party, said what happened was “dismaying”.
“Unheard of ferocity. Widespread indifference. There can be no justification,” he wrote in a tweet.
Right-wing leader Matteo Salvini also expressed outrage over the death, saying “security has no colour” and ”needs to return to being a right”.