La Nazione, Italy, June 7, 1994
“That man was Pacciani”
Updated on March 17, 2021
(Page 6) Dramatic face-to-face at the trial for the Monster’s murders
“Yes, it was just Pacciani”
And the defendant whispered: “You are a Judas”. The mistake in the first investigations
By Mario Del Gamba
FLORENCE (Italy) – “Yes, it was the gentleman there, next to the lawyer”, the witness said pointing Pietro Pacciani. It is his answer to prosecutor Paolo Canessa who has just asked him if he sees in the courtroom anyone looking like the character who might have spied the French couple shortly before the murder at Scopeti.
“You are a Judas”, the defendant whispered at him, angrily. He and the Italian-American officer Giuseppe Bevilacqua are almost face-to-face because the president has asked to compare the height of the individual he recognized to that of his. Bevilacqua does not reply to Pacciani but does it with one of his attorneys who disputes with him for having stated that the peeper was tall almost as him while Pacciani is lower for one palm.
“Lawyer, that day I hadn’t the yardstick, and he was at 10, 15 meters from me,” he precises ironically with a typical Italian-American accent.
The former criminal police officer was superintendent of the American Cemetery in Falciani at the time of the murder at Scopeti (September 9, 1985). His home was about 300 meters from the spot where the Monster of Florence slaughtered Nadine Mauriot and Michel Kraveichvili.
Prosecutor: “Do you remember what day was?”
Bevilacqua: “Two or three days before the murder.”
Prosecutor: “What did you see exactly?”
Bevilacqua: “The man came from a lane but he immediately back out when he became aware of my presence.”
Prosecutor: “Did you notice anything particular?”
Bevilacqua: “Yes, the man wore a green uniform like that of the rangers or Anas.”
Prosecutor: “Did you see the French couple too that morning?”
Bevilacqua: “Yes, I noticed that they had changed place. The day before, their tent was some hundred meters away towards the Scopeti Bridge. I made a mistake to have not stopped and warned them of the danger.”
Attorney Bevacqua: “What danger?”
Bevilacqua: “There had been the Monster of Florence’s murders, and the signals warned that the zone might be dangerous.”
Prosecutor: “Let describe the man you encountered.”
Bevilacqua: “About 50 years, stocky build, tanned face, white hair.”
Prosecutor: “Do you see anyone who looks like him in the courtroom?”
Bevilacqua: “Yes, the gentleman there, next to the lawyer.”
Pacciani’s attorneys challenged the contradictions of the investigations arising from witness’ interview (“he had a receding hairline and was tall as me”) and as to how he recognized the defendant when the Anti-Monster Team show him two pictures of Pacciani.
What concerns are the gaps of the investigations. Bevilacqua says that he went to the Carabinieri the day after the murder and told them about the mysterious figure he met at the spot of the murders two days earlier without any report being made. He said also that in the night of the crime his two watchdogs growled at length and tried to climb over the fence (“maybe they heard the Monster’s victims screaming”). But Bevilacqua was interviewed only in 1989. […]
La Repubblica, Italy, June 7, 1994, p. 18
“Pacciani was in the wood”
Shortly after two French were found dead
The witness and, below, the crime scene of the murder for which he made his deposition
1985, homicides in San Casciano. An Italian-American: “I saw him in the surroundings”. A police officer: “He was near the tent”
By Franca Selvatici
FLORENCE (Italy) – “Yes, that man struck me. He was wearing a kind of uniform as an Anas worker or a ranger. I knew them all but I didn’t know him. That’s why I stopped to figure out who he was. He was at 10, 15 meters from me, 4 or 500 meters from the spot where the two French tourists were camped, and I believe that the crime took place a day or two after that meeting. The man was robust and had an aquiline profile, tanned skin, his hair combed back.”
Joseph Bevilacqua is calm and confident. And he doesn’t flinch when the prosecutor Paolo Canessa asks him: “And do you see anyone who reminds you of that person, today, in the courtroom?” “The gentleman there, next to the lawyer”. Bevilacqua has no hesitation in pointing to Pietro Pacciani.
“Did he see me?”, the defendant asks his lawyers. “But he is crazy,” he stirs, gritting the inseparable toothpick between his teeth and saying a couple of curses. He always stated that he never went to the Scopeti wood. And now here is a witness who points to him as the man who was prowling not far from French couple’s tent, a few hours before their murder (which took place on 8 September ’85 and was the last of the monster’s crimes). And, as if that weren’t enough, immediately afterwards a young policeman, a former Digos agent, Edoardo Iacovacci, deposes, who recalls a man very similar to Pacciani who on the morning of 7 September ’85 was wandering around the French couple’s tent. For the accused, a hearing to forget.
Joseph Bevilacqua is a stocky man from New Jersey nearly sixty year old. He has been for more than twenty years in Italy and superintendent of the American Cemetery of Florence for a long time. Now he directs the American cemetery in Anzio and has only just come to testify because in recent days he was busy with the visit of President Clinton. A tough guy. When the lawyer Rosario Bevaqua asks him if he has always dealt with coffins and the dead, he replies in his English-Tuscan speaking: “No, I was first in the criminal police”. “So you also had guns?” “No, just my hands”, which are big and are probably more than enough.
In 1985 Bevilacqua lived 300-400 meters as the crow flies from the place where the French were killed. In the days before the crime he had noticed them. The girl was sunbathing. She wore a black bikini, was very pretty. “I’m just as human as you are,” says Joe. “I wanted to stop, explain that it was a dangerous area, so much so along the road there were signals reading ‘Monster Zone’. But I didn’t do it and I made a mistake.” Then he recounts the meeting with the strange character in ranger uniform and resembles that he talked about him with the carabinieri immediately after the crime. But he was only called to testify six years later. “The man was about the same height as me, and I’m 5 feet 7 inches,” he recalls.
“Well, dear Pacciani, – the president Enrico Ognibene intervenes – why don’t you come here? He doesn’t have to, eh.” The defendant gets up and the carabinieri escort him to the hemicycle. “Judas,” he whispered at the witness. “But I’m an honest man,” Bevilacqua retorts. “The witness is at least a palm taller,” observes the president. Bevilacqua does not break down: “But how could I know how tall he was from ten meters? I said ‘more or less like me.’ I didn’t have a meter.” And when they ask him to observe the defendant again, he has no doubts: “Maybe he had a little more hair, but that’s his nose. Yes, he looks like him.” […]