Fritzl and Mongelli

There is not a single journalist writing about the Michele Mongelli case (the man from Turin who has been arrested on suspicion of incestuously abusing his daughter over a period of 25 years) who has not been drawn into making comparisons with Josef Fritzl, the Austrian man who has just been imprisoned for also repeatedly raping his daughter. I’m afraid that I’m just not seeing the similarities, other than the fact that both concern the unforgiveable crime of abusing ones own off-spring.

This evening, at a lose end for anything more profitable to do, I decided to delve into the Telegraph’s archives and compare the first story that they wrote about Fritzl and the first that they wrote about Mongelli.

The immediate difference one might notice is that Fritzl’s crime appears, right from the outset, to be coldly and savagely calculated: keeping his own daughter locked away in a dungeon, away from the outside world, and pretending that she had run away. Fritzl, on the other hand, appears not to have locked her away – but to have only let her out when accompanied by him. According to the girl’s testimony, she was forced to sleep by his bed, so that he could abuse her whenever he felt like it.

Both are heinous crimes, certainly, but their only similarity seems to be the classification of the crime.

I went to meet the Public Prosecutor in the case on Friday – Pietro Forno. Having been warned about the sensitivity of this case by Roberto Caselli, the Italian justice minister, he wasn’t giving anything away, other than what had already been reported. I asked him what he thought the odds were of the trial going ahead (at the moment, it is just in the preliminaries). He thought it probably would.

Perhaps one of the most interesting comments I have read about the case, which highlights the difference from the Fritzl case, is the suggestion from one of the defence lawyers that the case represents a dysfunctional family, and that the girl is making these accusations in order to get back at her father. Whether this is true or not, I wouldn’t dare to comment; one hopes that the Italian courts, in time (and it is certain to take a lot longer than the Fritzl case did in Austria, given what I have seen so far of the lethargic court process), will establish the truth.

For now, I decided to do my own research into the case, and finally managed to track down where Mongelli lived. Not a difficult thing to do, but I’d prefer to keep the location to myself. Except to say that the area is one of the more raggedy parts of Turin – and social ills in the area aren’t the exception. They are the norm.


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