Thousands of Italians are flocking to free public screenings of a film about police violence, which tells the tragic story of a young man who died in custody and left Italy in shock almost a decade ago.

The story of Stefano Cucchi, 31, who was arrested in Rome in October 2009 for possessing illegal drugs, has become a film entitled, “Sulla mia pelle,” or “On My Skin.”

The film premiered at the Venice Film Festival last month and was available to Netflix subscribers since September 12 around the world.

Community groups and student organizations, however, are now screening pirated versions of the movie across Italy. Some 2,000 people only attended Rome’s La Sapienza University to watch the movie on Friday.

One of the organizers of the public screenings, only identified as Giovanni, told Italian daily La Repubblica that the events were a way to inform people of how abuse of power was taking place.

“This is how we can make people aware of the abuse of power by those in uniform and, more generally, on conditions in Italian prisons,” he said.

In the film, Cucchi, who suffered from epilepsy, is shown spending a week going through the law enforcement system, at police stations, then a prison, and finally in the prison infirmary, where he dies.

“What happened to Stefano Cucchi could have happened to any one of us,” said Teo, a 27-year-old cameraman. “It doesn’t show the police as animals but it points the finger at a timorous bureaucracy that is incapable of facing its responsibilities.”

Soon after his detention in October 2009, Cucchi was sent to a court, where he looked unstable and showed signs of having been beaten. After the hearing, a judge decided that a further hearing was necessary, and Cucchi was transferred to prison awaiting the second trial. His health condition worsened there, however, and he was taken to the infirmary.

He had bruising and other injuries on his legs and face, according to a medical report, which also said that his jaw had been fractured and a ruptured bladder had caused internal bleeding.

His family was denied permission to see him during his time in custody.

According to an autopsy result, he was severely dehydrated and also had two broken vertebrae and ruptured internal organs.

Ilaria Cucchi, Stefano Cucchi’s sister, is seen holding a picture of his brother’s face after his death in police custody. (File photo)

 

 

The prison’s medical service claimed at the time that the victim had accidentally fallen down some stairs.

Prosecutors investigated a total of 13 people in connection with his death. Three prison guards were charged with manslaughter at a trial in November 2009.

The trial, which ended in June 2013, found four doctors guilty of manslaughter and another guilty of making a false statement.

In January 2017, prosecutors eventually said that Cucchi had been unlawfully killed.

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