Boy dies after circumcision in Italy, prompting police charge against US man

A 66-year-old man was arrested after the two-year-old suffered fatal blood loss and his twin brother had to be taken to intensive care 

Adam Lusher
Tuesday 25 December 2018 11:09
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Boy dies after circumcision in Italy prompting police charge against US man

A 66-year-old American citizen has reportedly been charged with murder after a two-year-old boy died from blood loss following a botched circumcision near Rome.

Italian media said the procedure was attempted at a refugee centre in Monterotondo, on the northeastern outskirts of Rome.

It is understood that the dead boy’s twin brother was also subjected to an attempted circumcision, and it went so badly he had to be taken to a hospital intensive care unit.

Local prosecutor Francesco Menditto told reporters that the arrested 66-year-old was a Libyan-born US citizen.

Police are said to be trying to establish what – if any – medical qualifications he has.

Mr Menditto told local media: “One of the two children, transported to the hospital Sant’Andrea hospital in Rome, died of complications yet to be verified, while the other is currently hospitalised.

“A 66-year-old US citizen of Libyan descent was held responsible for practising a circumcision operation on two two-year-old Nigerian brothers.”

Italian media said the 66-year-old had been charged with murder.

It was reported that the toddler and his twin brother were born in Italy in January 2017 to a Nigerian mother who had claimed asylum in Europe. Local media said the mother wanted her sons to be circumcised out of respect for cultural traditions among Nigerian Muslims, despite being Catholic herself.

The circumcisions are believed to have been attempted at a centre for female and child asylum seekers that is run by the charity Arci and Monterotondo’s local council.

In a statement about the incident posted on Facebook, Arci said: “It is a tragedy that leaves us speechless.”

Antonino Lupi, the mayor of Monterotondo, told the Corriere Della Sera: “It is an absurd tragedy. Evidently the mother took the initiative [for the circumcision] without telling anyone, otherwise it would not have been at all allowed.”

Circumcision is currently unavailable in public health institutions in Italy.

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Foad Aodi, founder of the association of foreign doctors in Italy (AMSI) and Co-mai, an organisation supporting the Arab community, said having the procedure done privately can cost between €2,000 (£1,798) and €4,000 (£3,596).

Such high prices, he said, prompted some poorer parents to resort to “clandestine circumcisions from unauthorised and clandestine personnel and facilities”.

Adding that more than 35 per cent of circumcisions in Italy are done in people’s homes, he called upon Italy’s Ministry of Health to ensure the availability of circumcision at prices that were affordable to less well-off Muslim or Jewish parents.

Otherwise, he said, some poorer parents would continue to put their children “in the hands of unscrupulous and unskilled people, who for €50 or €20 practise circumcision”.

The twin brother who survived is understood to be in paediatric intensive care at Rome’s Gemelli Hospital, where staff said he was in a stable condition.

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