35 Arrested Over Torture Of Disabled Patients In Hospice Dubbed Care Home Of Horrors
Cops on the Italian island of Sicily have arrested 35 people over the torture of disabled people at a hospice dubbed the ‘care home of horrors’.
Police from the Metropolitan City of Palermo arrested the 35 suspects linked to the ‘Suor Rosina La Grua’ hospice in the town of Castelbuono this morning (17th December).
The arrests are part of an operation dubbed ‘Relax’ in which the judiciary also ordered the seizure of the hospice and financial assets worth over EUR 6.7 million (GBP 5.7 million).
According to the investigators, the disabled people interned at the hospice were administered massive amounts of medicinal drugs, often for no reason and in a completely arbitrary manner.
One of the reasons they administered the drugs, according to the investigators, was to keep their disabled charges docile to avoid difficulties during their work shifts.
These allegations, in part, led to the police charging the suspects with torture, mistreatment, kidnapping and fraud.
Of the 35, 10 are in preventive custody, seven under house arrest, five banned from leaving their municipality, and 13 banned from practising their profession for a year.
As well as administering sedative drugs, the suspects were filmed and secretly recorded insulting, slapping and kicking their charges or leaving them without food or water for hours.
Much of the abuse took place in the so-called ‘Relax’ room, as seen in this video footage, where the police operation got its name from.
Among those in custody is the president of the nonprofit organisation, Gaetano Di Marco, and among those under house arrest is Palermo healthcare official Vincenzo Prestigiacomo.
According to the investigators, Prestigiacomo should have been supervising the activities of the facility, but he had relegated his duties to his son and daughter-in-law instead.
The couple collected handsome sums of EUR 60,000 (GBP 51,000) and EUR 70,000 (GBP 60,000) respectively, with the woman having never even set foot in Castelbuono.
The institution had only reportedly managed to receive accreditation by the authorities after false documents were submitted by some of the suspects.
The NPO had reportedly received public funds worth EUR 6.2 million (GBP 5.3 million) over the past five years.
Part of the funds, destined for either patient care or upkeep of the facilities, was instead spent on things like cars, trips, hotel stays, food and wine, and jewellery.
The investigation into the suspects is ongoing.