Two US soldiers face fine and jail after graffitiing Italian monument

Two US soldiers face three years in jail and an $11,000 fine after they admitted spray painting graffiti on 15th-century Italian monument

  • The two suspects allegedly spray painted the Palladian Basilica in Vicenza

Two US soldiers are facing  up to three years in prison and a $11,000 fine after spray painting a 15th-century Italian monument. 

The two suspects, named only as A.J. Jr., 29, and B.M.E., 23, allegedly spray painted the graffiti on the Palladian Basilica in Vicenza, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, in the latest case of an Italian monument being defaced by foreigners.

An image shows Mayor Giacomo Possamai and Deputy Commander of the police Nives Pillan standing in front of the pillar. Pillan is also seen in another photo holding up the bottle of red paint that was used for the shocking act.

The two American soldiers, reportedly stationed at the Del Din US military base, formally known as Caserma Ederle (Camp Ederle), have been identified by the Italian authorities.

One of the two men was reportedly found to be in possession of the red paint and both have reportedly admitted to graffitiing the building. 

A CCTV still purportedly shows the Palladian Basilica in Vicenza, northeast Italy, being defaced

The graffiti on the 15th-century Basilica. The two suspects, named only as A.J. Jr., 29, and B.M.E., 23, allegedly spray painted the graffiti on the building

The identity of the soldiers was revealed following a collaboration with the US Department of the Army Criminal Investigation Division.

A statement from the City of Vicenza on Saturday, obtained by Newsflash, said: ‘Those who, one week ago, during the night between Saturday and Sunday, defaced the column of the Palladian Basilica at the corner between Piazza dei Signori and Piazzetta Palladio have been identified.

‘They are two males of American nationality serving at the Del Din military base, A.J. Jr., 29 years old, and B.M.E., 23 years old.’

Mayor Possamai is quoted as saying: ‘I want to, first of all, thank the Local Police and the Carabinieri of the Setaf for identifying the two individuals responsible for defacing the column of the Basilica. It was a vile and serious act that we condemned from the outset.’

He added: ‘In just a few days, we managed to identify the culprits, two servicemen from the American Del Din base, who admitted to being present in the square and being the authors of this deplorable act, particularly one of the two.

‘They are therefore guilty of a criminal offence. Furthermore, we will request compensation for the city through activities to be defined in cooperation with the American base.’

Mayor Giacomo Possamai and a police officer in front of the graffiti on the Palladian Basilica in Vicenza, Italy

The statement said the incident took place on Sunday, July 23, at 2.19am, when the American soldiers allegedly used red paint on the national monument in Piazza dei Signori.

Before reaching Piazza dei Signori and the Basilica, the couple had allegedly drawn a similar drawing on an information totem in Piazza Matteotti, near the Olympic Theater, RaiNews reports.

In addition to the criminal file by the Italian justice, the two American citizens also risk an investigation by the US military authority, the Italian media outlet added.

The Italian authorities said the pair were identified using CCTV footage. The statement said they were serving for the US Army Southern European Task Force, Africa at the Del Din base.

The authorities said that the pair were detained and the soldier who sprayed the paint on the column, A.J. Jr., allegedly confessed, with the authorities seizing the paint.

Deputy Commander of the police Nives Pillan holding up the bottle of red paint that was used for the shocking act

Earlier this month, a 17-year-old Swiss girl reportedly carved her initials into the Colosseum in Rome, just weeks after another tourist defaced the building. 

Police launched an investigation after Italian tour guide David Battaglino took video footage of the unidentified girl carving the letter ‘N’ into the wall, La Repubblica reported.

Video posted on Twitter by the Italian news agency ANSA shows the girl, whose face is blurred, using an object to carve the letter before she notices that she is being filmed and stops.

‘It is the first time I have managed to film an act of vandalism at the Colosseum but in six years I have seen dozens,’ Battaglino told La Repubblica Roma.

‘There are also those who rip off parts of the wall. They even spat on me once for scolding a boy,’ he added.

Last month, a man was caught carving his and his girlfriend’s name into the ancient monument.

Ivan Dimitrov, 27, a fitness coach, who also goes by the name Ivan Hawkins, was caught on camera by American holidaymaker Ryan Lutz as he carved the words, ‘Ivan and Hayley 23’ into the brickwork with a set of keys on June 23.

Bulgarian-born Ivan was in Rome with his long-term girlfriend Hayley Bracey, 33, and officials were left furious at the wanton vandalism and vowed to track the culprit down.

The couple, who live in Bristol, were visiting the city as part of a three week European tour. 

They were located in Bulgaria by police after they were identified through CCTV footage and hotel records.

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