By Omar Bah
Authorities in Rome have arrested 14 migrants from The Gambia and eight other countries for alleged involvement in unrest in a repatriation centre following the death of a migrant from Guinea-Conakry.
According to Italian police, after the body was discovered Sunday morning, migrants in the centre began setting mattresses on fire and throwing objects at law enforcement personnel.
“Migrants used phone booths to knock down two partitions. One group reached parked police vehicles, setting one on fire, while another group entered a room where law enforcement personnel kept personal items, which they took and destroyed. The suspects also destroyed eight video cameras,” police said.
The police reportedly used tear gas to calm the unrest, which lasted into the evening.
“Three officers were injured. The suspects are from The Gambia, Morocco, Pakistan, Guinea, Cuba, Chile, Senegal, Tunisia, and Nigeria,” police said.
An Italian lawmaker who visited the centre on Sunday said the 21-year-old Guinean migrant hung himself after expressing desperation at not being able to go home to join his family.
“These centres are black holes for rights and humanity,” lawmaker Riccardo Magi told La Republica television, calling for them to be closed. “Most people who are being held here will never be repatriated.”
When contacted for comments, a leading Gambian Italy-based activist, Ousman Touray, said he had not received the full details of the arrest.