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Italian prosecutor seeks life for US accused

An Italian prosecutor on Saturday (March 6) demanded life sentences for two young Americans being tried on murder charges, after a policeman was killed following a botched drug deal in Rome.Finnegan Lee Elder, who was 19 at the time, has admitted to stabbing Mario Cerciello Rega in July 2019, while his friend Gabriel Christian Natale-Hjorth, then 18, was tussling with another police officer.Under Italian law, anyone who participates even indirectly in a murder can face murder charges.The two Americans, both from California, have said they did not know that Cerciello or his partner, Andrea Varriale, were police officers, telling the court neither man had identified themselves.Varriale has denied this, testifying that they had shown them their badges.Elder and Natale-Hjorth were in Rome on holiday and tried to buy drugs from a local dealer. They have told the court they were cheated, but managed to snatch a bag off an intermediary as he tried to get away.They agreed to meet the dealer again to get their money back in exchange for the bag, but instead the two policemen showed up. Lawyers for Elder and Natale-Hjorth have yet to present their defense. A verdict is expected in April.

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