Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Head shots

ROME (21th july) - A FRENCH tourist beat his four-year-old daughter's head against the stone base of a Rome monument so hard she was left in a coma, police said yesterday. Bambino Gesu paediatric hospital said she had suffered severe head injuries and was in a coma. Her condition was last night described as "critical but stable".

Blood still stained the pavement of the Altar of the Nation hours after the girl was beaten late on Saturday night.

Carabinieri Lieutenant-Colonel Antonello Casarsa said the man, identified as Julien Monnet, 37, repeatedly struck the head of his daughter, Luna, against the stone after a traffic officer asked to see some identification.

A Canadian tourist had told police that Monnet had been acting strangely toward the girl.

"He was holding the child in an unhealthy way. She was crying and screaming," the traffic officer, Anna Esposito, later told Italian state TV. When approached Monnet quickened his step, said Ms Esposito, then said something she couldn't understand when she asked him what he was doing.

"He was holding the girl by her arm and then started striking her head against the stone," she said.

Ms Esposito said the Canadian had then grabbed the child while she struggled to hold Monnet and called for help. "He was like a furious beast," Ms Esposito said.

Monnet was then surrounded by passers-by. He tried to break free and attempted to strike his own head on the monument, but onlookers prevented him, said Lt-Col Casarsa.

He said that a search had revealed medicine in Monnet's backpack which suggested he had been undergoing psychiatric treatment.

He added that Monnet lived with the child's mother near Paris. Police contacted her on holiday in Turkey from where she was flying to Rome. She told police she believed Monnet and her daughter were still in France.

Monnet was arrested and taken to Regina Coeli jail.

The woman in jeans has cropped hair and a pained look in her eyes. There’s a big red heart on her canary yellow top. This is a thumbnail portrait of a distraught young mother determined to protect her privacy. Fabienne Verdeille, 32, is the partner of Julien Monnet, the 37-year-old Frenchman who on Saturday evening beat his daughter Luna into unconsciousness. Ms Verdeille arrived in Rome at 1 pm yesterday from Turkey, where she had been holidaying with her sister, after a stop in Paris to pick up her mother and her mother’s partner.
As she started out on her agonizing tour of Rome’s hospitals, police stations and carabinieri barracks, Ms Verdeille requested and obtained a news blackout on the incident. This means it will be difficult to reconstruct events leading up to Saturday evening’s tragedy in Piazza Venezia. Julien Monnet, the IT technician who is Ms Verdeille’s partner and Luna’s father, has been charged with attempted murder. He will be questioned by magistrates tomorrow.
“It’s a human tragedy and a family tragedy”, was all Ms Verdeille had to say to reporters. She explicitly requested that her pain should be respected, in the hope of discouraging over-inquisitive reporters and obsessive media attention. “This isn’t some housewife from the banlieues”, commented on eye witness.

It is known that Ms Verdeille confirmed to carabinieri that Mr Monnet has suffered mental disturbances and has been taking medication for some time.