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Onlookers at Grand Canal in Venice mock refugee as he drowns

Italian authorities are investigating the incident.


Samantha Grasso


Italian authorities have opened an investigation into the downing of an African man in Venice’s Grand Canal, after a video posted online shows onlookers watching him from boats nearby, some bystanders laughing and shouting racist comments.

The incident happened on Jan. 22., according to the Associated Press. No one jumped in to help Pateh Sabally, a 22-year-old Gambian, as he flailed in the Grand Canal.

In the video people can be heard yelling at Sabally, shouting, “He is stupid. He wants to die,” and “Africa.” Others shouted, “Go on, go back home,” and “Let him die at this point.

Sabally was thrown at least three life vests, but he did not appear to reach for them, leading to speculation that he wanted to commit suicide. According to the Evening Standard, the current pulled Sabally under before police divers arrived to rescue him.

Sabally reportedly emigrated from Africa two years ago and arrived in Italy after his boat was intercepted. Though he was given a permit to stay in Italy, he traveled to Switzerland to be closer to family and to find work, but was sent back.

According to the AP more than 181,000 immigrants and refugees arrived in Italy by boat in 2016, most from sub-Saharan Africa.

Security cameras in the area show Sabally sitting on steps overlooking the Grand Canal 10 minutes before he was spotted drowning.

“I don’t want to blame anyone but maybe something more could have been done to save him,” Dino Basso, local head of the Italian association of lifeguards, told the Evening Standard.

H/T Yahoo UK

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