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ACCIARITO, Pietro Umberto
(1871-1943) Italian anarchiste.


Pietro Acciarito attempted to assassinate the Italian king Umberto I (1844ュ1900) on April 22, 1897, as the monarch attended a horse race in Naples being run in honour of his twenty-ninth wedding anniversary. A crowd of well-wishers was on hand, as well as his fatal ill-wisher, who approached the royal carriage, producing a knife.

Painting: The anarchist Acciarito makes attempt on the King's life When Umberto saw the weapon, he stood up and moved far enough away in the carriage that Acciarito could not reach him. Acciarito tried to stab Umberto anyway, but his knife struck harmlessly against the vehicle. Acciarito then proceeded to carve a letter A and a cross in the side of the carriage. In the panic and commotion that followed, Acciarito calmly walked from the scene. He was finally apprehended fifty metres away. The king, not wanting to appear shaken by the event, attended the races as scheduled.

Pietro Acciarito was born in poverty. His father, Camilo Acciarito, who worked as a doorman, was proud of the fact that his birthday was the same as Umberto's and that his son's middle name was Umberto. As an adult, Acciarito became a blacksmith and operated a small shop of his own. Although poorly educated, he was a supporter of radical politics, but he was not a member of any political group. He did, however, have a strong hatred of the upper classes, a fact about which he was quite vocal. He also showed what would today be considered signs of clinical depression.

On April 20, 1897, he shut his blacksmith shop and informed his father that this would be the last time they would see each other. When his father asked if he was planning to emigrate or commit suicide, Acciarito replied that he would find out soon enough as he was off to the racetrack. Acciarito's father then contacted the police and told them to be prepared for an attack on Umberto at the races.

When Acciarito was arrested, he was asked why he had attacked the king. His response was that the king seemed willing to give twenty-four thousand lire to a horse (the purse from the race that day) but nothing to the poor.

Convinced that he was part of an anarchist conspiracy, police interrogated and tortured Acciarito to force him to betray accomplices. But in the end they arrested only Acciarito's friend Romeo Frezzi because Frezzi had a photograph of Acciarito in his home. Frezzi died under interrogation three days later. The initial verdict on Frezzi's death was that he had committed suicide by banging his head against the cell wall. A second investigation was concluded by stating that Frezzi had died of a stroke. When both explanations were disputed, a third investigation was undertaken; it found that Frezzi had jumped six metres to his death.

The Frezzi affair was the centre of mass protests against police brutality. The officers responsible for Frezzi's interrogation were soon transferred. The police then forged a letter from Acciarito's girlfriend saying that she was pregnant and later informed Acciarito that they would release him to be with his girlfriend if he would name his co-conspirators. Acciarito named five men who were all quickly arrested.

On trialAt their trial, Acciarito's five supposed accomplices were found not guilty as the only evidence against them was Acciarito's statement made under extreme duress. Acciarito, however, was found guilty of attempted regicide and sentenced to life imprisonment. While in solitary confinement, he went insane. He was then transferred to the same asylum as the assassin Giovanni Passannante, where he lived out the remainder of his life. The same eugenicists who examined Passannante's brain concluded that because Acciarito's head was oval-shaped, he was predisposed to assassination.

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From: THE BOOK OF ASSASSINS

RESOURCE:

Giovanni Passannante. La vita, l'attentato, il processo, la condanna
a morte, la grazia `regale' e gli anni di galera del cuoco lucano che nel 1878
ruppe l'incantesimo monarchico
by Giuseppe Galzerano (Scalo, 1997).

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