Shooters Who Paralysed Manuel Bortuzzo, Teammate Of Paltrinieri & Detti, Jailed For 16 Years

Manuel Bortuzzo and his story in La Gazzetta dello Sport - Images Courtesy: La Gazzetta dello Sport

Manuel Bortuzzo Attackers Convicted In Case Of Premeditated Murder and Mistaken Identity

The men who shot and paralysed Italian freestyle swimmer Manuel Bortuzzo on the night of February 2 in the Axa district of Rome in a case of mistaken identity as they attempted to murder others have been sentenced to 16 years in jail.

Magistrate Daniela Caramico D’Auria, at the Tribunale di Roma, convicted Lorenzo Marinelli and Daniel Bazzano after judging that the shots they fired from a scooter when passing Bortuzzo and a friend in the street amounted to a premeditated, attempted murder.

Bortuzzo’s injuries left him paralysed in both legs. Public Prosecutor Elena Neri had asked for 20 years in prison for both of his attackers but the accused confessed to the attack in a plea bargain that meant they would have a third of their sentence commuted.

A 19-year-old distance freestyle swimmer, Bortuzzo had challenged the 15-min mark in a short-course 1500m in 2017. He then moved to train in the program that boasts Olympic 1500m champion Gregorio Paltrinieri and Olympic 400m and 1500m bronze medallist Gabriele Detti, under the guidance of coaches Stefano Morini and Christian Galenda.

Bortuzzo had been training for the Italian national championships when the attack took place. After the 2017 season, he suffered a bout of mononucleosis and had to miss much training. Back in the pool and with the group in Ostia from October 2018, he had high hopes of marked progress come the spring of 2019.

Born in Trieste in 1999, Bortuzzo was developed by Galenda, who also coached him at the Fiamme Gialle club, after the swimmer’s passion for swimming led him to leave the Veneto region and Treviso, where he grew up, to join the famous program in Ostia.

On the fateful night back in February, Bortuzzo was walking down the street near a bar where a fight had broken out earlier in the evening. In a case of mistaken identity, Bortuzzo took the bullets intends for others.

He was rushed to the San Camillo hospital. After thoracic hemorrhage was brought under control, emergency neurosurgery was performed by leading surgeon Alberto Delitala. The bullet that affected the vertebrae was extracted but initial fears that the swimmer would be paralysed would be confirmed.

Shaken by events, Morini told reporter Stefano Arcobelli at La Gazzetta dello Sport, at the time of the shooting: “He’s a good boy, he arrived from Treviso to Rome, put himself in the game by moving to the capital to try to prove himself, first of all, that he can make his mark in swimming in a way that matters.

“He trains with Detti and Paltrinieri, and this is already a great school for him. We heard early this morning. Manuel is a very quiet person, not exuberant: I don’t know the dynamics of what happened (that night in Rome) … but he is one of those guys you call ‘good’. At a competitive level, he is still in his infancy, after a few podiums at youth level he’s working on making the jump to the next level by learning new training methods: working with champions like Paltrinieri or doing 10 sessions a week, this is how it’s put to the test. He’s a friend of Ilaria Cusinato, a friend from their time in Venice. Manuel had the idea of proving that he had made the right choice – and he was working at it.”

Bortuzzo is largely confined to a wheelchair these days.

His case prompted Virginia Raggi, the first woman to be Mayor of Rome, to offer the city’s support to Manuel and his family: “Rome is at the side of Manuel’s family … those responsible will be brought to justice as quickly as possible.”

They have been, both attackers behind bars this day as their victim builds a new life.

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