In September of 2020 Four men in their 20s were arrested on charges of manslaughter in the death of a 21-year-old Cape Verdian-Italian man in Colleferro, a town south of Rome.

Willy Monteiro Duarte died after being beaten with kicks and punches in a brutal assault by the four alleged assailants from the nearby town of Artena, after he had attempted to save his friend from being beaten.

The four, currently in prison, have been named as brothers and mixed martial arts practitioners Gabriele and Marco Bianchi, aged 26 and 24; Francesco Belleggia, 23; and Mario Pincarelli, 22.

The 4 were apparently Already known to police and feared in their home town for their propensity for violence.

One of Duarte’s friends, who identified himself as Alessandro, said: “Everyone knew those two brothers, they’ve been fighting and beating people in the same way for two years, they’ve committed other beatings.”

The beating took place at around 01.00 on 6 September, 2020 in the centre of Colleferro, however there were no security cameras in the area.

According to initial reports, Duarte had noticed his friend being threatened by another man and immediately stepped in between the two in an attempt to diffuse the situation.

A gesture for which the President of the Republic awarded Willy the gold medal for civil valour .

However the aggressor made a phone call for “backup” and within minutes a black Audi Q7 pulled up and the aggressor’s three friends got out and beat Willy “until he stopped breathing.”

The attackers allegedly fled the scene in the SUV driven by a fifth member of the gang.

A local woman who witnessed the attack said, “I will never forget the screams of that young boy. He said “enough, please, enough, I can’t breathe anymore.” Poor creature. Those were devils, not human beings.”

The attack has been condemned by politicians across the spectrum and caused widespread disgust in Italy. On 7 September 2020 a day of mourning was declared in Colleferro as well as in Paliano, the nearby town where Duarte lived.

Lazio governor Nicola Zingaretti commented on Facebook: “Willy wanted to be a cook, today his mother tells us about it. We all mourn this generous young man, along with his friends and family. We will name a hotel institute in Lazio after Willy. For him, for his altruism, in his memory against violence.”

Zingaretti added: “The Lazio Region undertakes to pay the legal fees in the proceedings for Willy’s death. We will not leave the family on their own.”

The hotel where Duarte worked also launched a fundraising campaign to assist Duarte’s family financially.

Italy’s foreign affairs minister Luigi Di Maio posted: “You can’t die like that. At 21, killed by a bunch of thugs, beaten with kicks and punches. It’s not possible. Willy deserves justice and whoever killed him must pay an exemplary punishment.”

On July 4th of 2022 The court had sentenced the brothers Marco and Gabriele Bianchi , martial arts champions, to life imprisonment for voluntary homicide.

Francesco Belleggia was sentenced to 23 years of imprisonment and Mario Pincarelli was 21 years

The Court of Appeal, however – granting generic mitigating circumstances to the Bianchi brothers – on 11 October 2023, reduced their sentence to 24 years of imprisonment while confirming the sentences for the co-defendants who participated (even if with different roles) in the brutal attack, holding them guilty of material complicity in Willy’s murder.

The General Prosecutor’s Office of the Court of Appeal will ask the Court of Cassation for a life sentence once again for Marco and Gabriele Bianchi at the Supreme Court on April 9th.