An internet troll in Italy who responded to a post on Facebook about Ineos Grenadiers rider Dani Martinez getting punched by a driver by writing “Run over one cyclist to educate 100” has been cleared by a judge who ruled that no crime had been committed.
Marco Cavorso, safety manager of the Italian professional cyclists’ union the ACCPI, described the ruling as a “slap in the face” for cyclists in a statement released via the organisation, which said it demonstrated that “inciting violence against cyclists isn’t a crime.”
It was Cavorso himself, whose 13-year-old son Tomasso was killed by a driver while out riding his bike, who reported the social media post to the relevant authorities following the March 2018 incident in Tuscany that left then EF Education First rider Martinez in hospital after a driver punched the Colombian who had remonstrated with him about a close pass.
The social media commentator was investigated for incitement to commit a crime, aggravated by transmission by electronic means, but a court in Pistoia has acquitted the defendant after a judge in Pistoia ruled that the facts of the case did not constitute a crime.
Reacting to the judgment, Cavorso said: “The outcome of the hearing against one of many people who hare cyclists is yet another slap in the face for us, but it won’t stop us – we owe it to my son Tommaso and to all those boys and girls who will stay young forever.”
The ACCPI is currently campaigning for a minimum safe passing distance of 1.5 metres to be put in place in Italy, and while Cavorso acknowledged that it would “not be the panacea for all ills given how deeply rooted verbal and physical violence is in our society,” it would “be the first step towards recognising that weak road users have a right to their vital space.”
In a statement on its website, the ACCPI highlighted the death toll on Italy’s roads, saying that “every day children and adults, men and women, students and workers, rich and poor, champions and ordinary people continue to die, with no distinction between them, because road violence shows no signs of stopping, and verbal violence towards vulnerable road users instead of being punished is considered acceptable.”
The definitive sentence in the case will be filed within 90 days, with both Cavorso and the ACCPI having 135 days to appeal the ruling, which they intend to do.
The professional cyclists’ organisation also highlighted that the court case comes at a time when the lorry driver who fled the scene of the crash on 30 November in which recently-retired pro cyclist Davide Rebellin was killed is still at liberty.
> Lorry driver who killed Davide Rebellin reportedly got out of cab, looked at dead cyclist, then drove off
Prosecutors in Vicenza are still waiting to issue a European arrest warrant for the driver, Wolfgang Rieke, who returned to his home country of Germany immediately after the fatal crash.
According to La Gazzetta dello Sport, the delay in issuing the arrest warrant, and delay also in performing an autopsy on Rebellin to exclude, for example, the possibility that he may have been taken ill immediately prior to the fatal crash, is to avoid any irregularity in the process that might subsequently be seized upon by the defence.
The newspaper added that the autopsy is due to take place in Vicenza next Monday 19 December, with the funeral held on Wednesday 21 or, more likely, Thursday 22 December.
“You can kill a cyclist, flee abroad driving your lorry and continue to live as though nothing happened,” said the ACCPI, “while the person you killed is still waiting for their autopsy and his devastated family has not yet been able to arrange his funeral.”
Insisting that Italy’s roads “continue to represent a minefield for cyclists,” the ACCPI is inviting people to participate in an initiative this Sunday to highlight the danger people on bikes face on the roads.
“In memory of Davide Rebellin and to continue to ask for respect and safety for cyclists, we are inviting everyone that day to ride with a black armband and to post messages on social media with the hashtag #unmetroemezzodivita and tagging @accpi,” said the organisation’s president, Cristian Salvato.
“We will gladly share your messages because we need to respond to death and violence with all our will to live, the joy of pedalling and the respect that every human life deserves, even that of those who insult us and do not realise that when they are at the wheel it is as though they had a loaded pistol in their hand,” he added.
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