A mother mourns her son she cannot bury

Yasser, a Tunisian boy who died at the age of 26, arrives in Italy in the summer of 2021, aboard a makeshift boat, together with other immigrants in search of hope. He has no documents, he clandestinely reaches Martinsicuro in Abruzzo. Here, he who knows for what tragic circumstances, still to be clarified, he would have ended up in the vortex of drugs. On that cursed July 9, 2022, at 2.55 am, in the middle of the night, he was picked up in front of a bar by the 118 ambulance, which arrived on the spot after a call, and transported to the Giulianova hospital. Here he undergoes first aid in the emergency room, “but there is no place in intensive care”. In the first instance, the carabinieri report that the checks carried out on the boy found an overdose of opiates and cocaine. In the following hours, the patient is transferred in an emergency to the intensive care unit of the Atri hospital, where he will die at 11.15. The soldiers of the Atri station will know of the death at 19.50 informed by a doctor of the department.

Yasser

The prosecutor of the Court of Teramo, Silvia Scamurra, is informed of the death around 21, who orders that the body be made available to the judiciary. On 11 July, the soldiers of the Martinsicuro station made contact with a Tunisian acquaintance of Yasser, who proceeded to notify the boy’s relatives. His brother Alì, residing in France, sets off and reaches the police station the following day, 12 July.

On the same day Scamurra opens a file, model 44, against unknown persons, with the hypothesis of the crimes referred to in articles 596 (death or injury as a consequence of another crime, i.e. intentional crime) and 589 (manslaughter) of the penal code . Offended persons: Yasser’s next of kin.

The emergency room report

The report from the emergency room of the Giulianova hospital reports a diagnosis with a confidential prognosis of “acute pulmonary edema in substance overdose; severe neutropenia, unspecified acute pulmonary edema”. The patient is discharged at 6.25 for transfer to the intensive care unit of the Atri hospital. Yasser would have been the protagonist of previous accesses to Giulianova’s emergency room for heroin abuse. He will die, as we said, at 11.15 in the Atri hospital. As far as we were able to understand Yasser before arriving in Italy he would never have abused (and perhaps would never have used) drugs.

Transfer of the body for autopsy

On 12 July, prosecutor Scamurra orders the transfer of the body to the Teramo hospital for the completion of the autopsy. On 13 July Doctor Falco Pietro, from the forensic medicine department of Pescara, was appointed to carry out all the autopsy checks on the body of the deceased. The task for the toxicological tests is entrusted to the technical consultant Dr. Fabio Savini director of Pharma-Toxicology of the Pescara hospital.

Yasser’s relatives, with delegation to Zbidi Naceur, representative of the Tunisian community in the provinces of Teramo and Ascoli Piceno, naturally have the right to appoint technical consultants of their choice, but there are no documents in the file confirming the appointment of experts biased.

The questions posed by the prosecutor to the technical consultants

“After examining the procedural documents and having proceeded with the autopsy examination on Yasser’s body, with the removal of organs or parts of organs, tissues and biological fluids and with the appropriate laboratory tests, the Technical Consultants are to state the time of death of the aforesaid, what is the cause of it and what are the means that have produced it. They also perform the appropriate chemical-toxicological tests on the tissues and organs taken during the autopsy examination, specifying – if the presence of alcoholic and/or narcotic or psychotropic substances is highlighted – the quantity/quality of the same, illustrating their toxic properties, the time and the methods of intake and the physical and mental effects that derive from the intake…”

The expert operations will begin on 14 July at 8.30 in the Teramo morgue. The consultants will ask for the usual 60 days to complete the assignment.

Four months after the autopsy, Yasser’s body is still in the morgue

On the same day as the start of the appraisal operations, the Tunisian Foreign Ministry through the Consulate in Rome wrote to the Prosecutor of Teramo to ask for the release of the no impediment document for the expatriation of the body, in order to allow the start of the repatriation procedures. In the same letter, the Deputy Consul Mhosen Kheder requests a copy of the file as soon as the investigation is completed. On that date, July 14, the Consulate had already commissioned a funeral home company to carry out the formalities for the repatriation of the body by air from Rome to Tunis.

On the same day, the prosecutor replies that “since the death occurred in circumstances of certain criminal relevance, it is not currently possible to grant the no impediment document until the outcome of the autopsy investigations”. On 21 July, the family’s lawyer also requested permission to bury the body. Nothing done.

Yasser’s mom on Tunisian TV

The problem for Yasser’s family, especially for his mother, is that they have been waiting for the boy’s proper burial for 5 months. The mother is now desperate, she would like a grave to cry and pray on. Here is his speech on Tunisian television which took an interest in the case. Click

The open questions

It is clear that the prosecutor’s hypothesis concerns the manslaughter or willful crime against unknown persons who allegedly procured the substances for Yasser. We are probably investigating any other circumstances that are currently obscure that could have caused the boy’s death. Perhaps by investigating the circles of drug dealing and the exploitation of illegal immigrants. Nobody knows. Even Yasser’s family lawyer – whom we contacted – has no information on the results of the autopsy and why the report of the technical advisers is not yet available.

However, if it’s an overdose, as it seems from the medical reports, is it so complicated to perform an autopsy? If it’s an overdose, is it so complicated to perform toxicological tests? Is there still a need to keep the body locked up in the Teramo morgue? Or is the body kept elsewhere? These are questions that the Public Prosecutor’s Office probably could not answer due to the obligation of secrecy of the investigations. We do them, simply because a mother mourns a child from a distance who would like to be buried with dignity in her city. Yasser had two tattoos: on the back of his left hand the word familieswhile on the wrist of the same hand the name of Naziha. He probably loved his family and loved his mother Nazihaprecisely.

A mother mourns her son she cannot bury – Basilicata24