Italian couple killed 4 neighbors

COMO, Italy (Reuters) - An Italian man and his wife were sentenced to life in jail for slitting the throats of four neighbors, including a two-year-old toddler who they said made too much noise, a court said on Wednesday.

Olindo Romano and his wife Rosa Bazzi confessed during the investigation to slitting the throats of 30-year-old Raffaella Castagna, her young son Youssef, her mother and a neighbor.

They later retracted their confession, saying it had been made under pressure from magistrates.

The middle-aged couple lived in the same building as the Castagna family in the wealthy northern town of Erba, and had complained frequently about Youssef’s screams in a long-running dispute over noise.

The case shocked Italy and sparked a wave of soul-searching in the local press, which the day after the murders pointed the finger at Castagna’s husband, a Tunisian immigrant previously jailed for drug dealing.

Rare front-page apologies were offered to the man, Azouz Marzouk, when it emerged that he was on a trip to his homeland at the time of the murders and that an apparently ordinary Italian couple was to blame.

“I am moved. Finally my loved ones can rest in peace,” he said after the verdict was read. The court also ruled that Romano and Bazzi should spend the first three years of their sentences in isolation.

The couple were arrested after another neighbor, whom they had struck with a knife and left for dead on the night of the murders, survived and identified them as the killers.

Reporting by Ilaria Polleschi, writing by Silvia Aloisi, editing by Tim Pearce