Italian girl's rape claim sparks arson attack on Gypsy camp

Turin: abgefackelte Roma Siedlung

Sixteen-year-old confesses she made up story that prompted mob to torch camp in Turin district


A 16-year-old Italian girl whose claim that she was raped by Gypsies prompted a furious mob to launch an arson attack on a Turin Roma camp has admitted to police that she invented her story.


Hundreds of residents of the deprived Turin suburb of Vallette took to the streets on Saturday to protest after the girl, who has not been named, claimed she had been dragged behind a building and raped by two Gypsy men.


A splinter group of around 50 residents then marched towards a nearby camp where they reportedly called for all women and children to leave before throwing firecrackers and setting fire to caravans, shacks and cars.


Police officers evacuated the camp moments before the group arrived and no injuries were reported, but fire crews were unable to prevent the camp being destroyed.


The girl's brother, who initially backed her story, arrived with police as the flames grew to announce his sister had confessed to inventing the episode, but his appeal to call off the attack came too late.

Italian daily La Repubblica reported the girl had promised her family she would remain a virgin until she married and lied about the rape after sleeping with her boyfriend.


Built during Italy's postwar boom years to accommodate southern Italian migrants arriving to work in Turin's factories, the Vallette neighbourhood is fringed by fields and sits next to a new football stadium opened this season by Juventus.


Beside the stadium is the site of an old hunting lodge once owned by Italy's former royal family, the Savoys, where Roma people have set up camp, incurring the hostility of locals.


Paola Bragantini, Turin secretary for Italy's centre-left Democratic party, said the mob that attacked the camp at the weekend was made up of hardcore, or "ultra", Juventus supporters, who recently gained notoriety for yelling racist abuse at black Italian footballer Mario Balotelli.


Piero Fassino, the mayor of Turin, denounced the "lynch mob" mentality of the arsonists, but Bragantini suggested they were feeding off resentment of Gypsies, which has become widespread in Italy.


"Those who know only violence and seek any excuse for fighting have exploited the exasperation of the people who have wanted to close down the Gypsy camp for years," said Bragantini, who added that the mob shouted football chants as the camp burned.