DeSantis Approves Transfer of Convicted Murderer to Italy While Biden Meets with Italian PM

Florida has finally decided to allow a convicted murderer and former Italian television producer to serve out his sentence in his home country. This decision comes after years of legal disputes and international attention surrounding the case.

On the day that Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni is set to meet with President Joe Biden in Washington, D.C., Governor Ron DeSantis has approved the transfer of 66-year-old Enrico Forti to Italian authorities. Prime Minister Meloni personally spoke to Governor DeSantis about this transfer on Friday.

Both the Biden administration and the administration of former President Donald Trump attempted to repatriate Forti to Italy.

Governor DeSantis granted “conditional approval” to extradite Forti over three years ago, despite objections from Miami-Dade prosecutors who handled his case. Forti, who was convicted in 2000 of killing an Australian man and leaving his body on a Miami beach, maintains his innocence. Journalists in Italy have raised doubts about his conviction, drawing comparisons to the high-profile case of Amanda Knox, an American who was initially found guilty of murder in Italy but later acquitted.

Florida officials requested guarantees that Forti would complete his life sentence in an Italian prison before extraditing him. The governor’s office confirmed that the victim’s surviving family and the Australian government support the choice to have Forti fulfill the remainder of his sentence in Italy.

Ryan Newman, the general counsel for DeSantis, wrote a letter on Thursday to the U.S. Department of Justice. In the letter, he stated that Florida had agreed to the transfer now. The reason for the agreement is that federal authorities have confirmed that the transfer is in the national interest. They believe that it will strengthen the relationship between the governments of Italy and the United States.

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Former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has voiced his support for the move.

“When I served as Secretary of State, we were given guarantees that if Enrico Forti were ever extradited to Italy, he would be incarcerated in accordance with Italian law,” stated Pompeo. “I trust that the Italian Government will honor their commitments. As this request originated from the Italian Government, it will greatly contribute to maintaining the robust diplomatic ties between our two nations.”

According to Bryan Griffin, spokesperson for DeSantis, the transfer of Raffaele Sollecito to Italy is not only a significant milestone but also expected to result in substantial taxpayer savings for the people of Florida. Griffin emphasized that the approval for this transfer was not given lightly and involved thorough examination. He further stated that today’s action marks the completion of the conditional approval made by the DeSantis Administration in 2020, following extensive negotiations and due diligence. Additionally, Griffin mentioned that Italy will now assume the cost of Mr. Forti’s lifetime custody.

In previous news reports, it was revealed that Forti, a former windsurfing champion, faced charges for the murder of Anthony “Dale” Pike. Pike was fatally shot in the head in 1998, following his visit to Miami to discuss a potential business deal with Forti’s father, Tony Pike. The deal involved the sale of a renowned resort in Ibiza, Spain, which gained popularity during the 1980s and was famously chosen as the venue for Queen vocalist Freddie Mercury’s 41st birthday celebration. The Herald newspaper reported that evidence presented during Forti’s trial suggested that Tony Pike was suffering from dementia, and it was alleged that Forti was attempting to deceive him.

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CBS News conducted a detailed investigation into Forti’s case over four years ago. They delved into the murder and raised doubts about the alleged involvement of a German con man who had supposedly incurred expenses on Tony Pike’s credit card. Furthermore, a juror from the trial disclosed to CBS News that she felt pressured to convict Forti.

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