MILAN COPS CREDIT CIVILIAN FOR BREAK IN GUCCI CASE
Byline: Sara Gay Forden
MILAN — The man who helped investigators round up suspects in the Maurizio Gucci murder case was “an ordinary man, a simple man with a heavy conscience,” said the head of Milan’s Criminalpol police force, Filippo Ninni, during a Milan press conference Monday.
At the press conference, police confirmed details of the arrests Friday of five people in the killing of Maurizio Gucci two years ago, including his ex-wife, Patrizia Reggiani, 49, who is alleged to have ordered Gucci’s assassination in a complex quest for money and revenge.
The police source “was not a criminal — he was just a citizen who had learned about a grave event and wanted to come forward, to get it off his chest,” Ninni said of the unidentified source.
According to officials, the investigation into the mysterious killing of Maurizio Gucci in March 1995 had been proceeding with few remarkable developments until last month, when a man came to police saying that the porter at the hotel where he was living had revealed to him that he had been involved in the killing of the former luxury goods executive.
That porter was Ivano Savioni, 40, who worked at Hotel Adry, a one-star pensione in Via Lulli in Milan. Savioni was arrested Friday and accused of masterminding Gucci’s killing at Reggiani’s direction. Also arrested were Pina Auriemma, a psychic and long-term confidante of Reggiani’s; and two convicted criminals, Orazio Cicala and Benedetto Ceraulo, who allegedly carried out the job.
“These weren’t sophisticated criminals,” explained Ninni. “These were small-time crooks who lived from day to day on small-time crimes: drugs, petty theft, things like that.”
“On the other hand, it was unthinkable that Gucci’s ex-wife, who moved in the circles of high society, would have turned to professional assassins or Sicilian mobsters,” said investigating magistrate Carlo Nocerino. “In the end, sometimes the most apparently complex situations end up being banal.”
Nocerino stressed to journalists, however, that Reggiani and her alleged accomplices stand accused of murder but haven’t been convicted yet.
With the help of the unidentified source, investigators were able to lay a web of hidden microphones, introduce an undercover agent into the group of alleged killers and collect enough evidence about their involvement in the shooting to issue Friday’s arrest warrants.
“I can’t deny that the emergence of this source made a decisive change in the pace of the investigation,” said Nocerino, who noted that he had discarded a probe into Maurizio Gucci’s planned investments in a Swiss casino operation last May.
Reggiani, who police initially expected to question Monday, was being held in isolation in the women’s section of Milan’s San Vittore jail for formal interrogation today, officials said. According to jail sources, on her first night in jail, Reggiani requested several Mickey Mouse comic books before going to sleep.
Meanwhile, Auriemma, whom the Italian press has dubbed “la maga nera,” or “the black witch,” refused to answer any questions at her interrogation Monday, as did Cicala, 58.
Ceraulo, 35, the alleged triggerman, is expected to be heard today, along with Reggiani.
Reggiani’s lawyer, Marco De Luca, a prominent criminal attorney in Milan, said he met with his client for the first time on Monday. “She was depressed, weak, troubled and worried about her daughters,” De Luca said, who denounced the widespread leaks of information to the press about details of the investigation and arrests in the Gucci case.