Italian under house arrest after trying to enter Aviano Air Base
By KENT HARRIS | STARS AND STRIPES Published: November 17, 2014
AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy — A 20-year-old Italian man is under house arrest after assaulting an Italian police officer while trying to talk his way onto this U.S. base last week.
The man, identified by Italian media reports as Barfi Moses Attah, said he wanted to meet with the American base commander, apparently in hopes of getting a flight to the United States, U.S. and Italian officials said.
The incident is still under investigation, but authorities believe the man did not intend any actions against the base or U.S. personnel.
“It appears to be an immigration-type issue, rather than a force protection issue,” said Capt. Michael Hertzog, chief of public affairs for the 31st Fighter Wing. He said Italian authorities were handling all aspects of the case and referred questions to them.
Attah, who is of Ghanaian descent, never made it on base, and no Americans were involved in the incident.
Attah lives in Casarsa, about 19 miles from Aviano, with his family, according to Italian officials, who spoke only on condition of anonymity. In a hearing before a judge last week, he was confined to the Casarsa city limits and told he couldn’t leave his home at night.
The incident started about noon on Nov. 11, when Attah, wearing a backpack, walked to a gate on the flight line used only by Italian military personnel. He claimed to be an American citizen and sought admission to the base but declined to provide any relevant identification. Authorities later determined he was born in Palermo and does not have American citizenship.
The guard at the gate, a member of the Italian Air Force, called officers from the base Carabinieri unit to get the man to leave the area. Bases such as Aviano are owned by the Italian military, and regulations prohibit anyone from lingering near such facilities without permission.
Authorities say the man grew agitated while talking with the Carabinieri officers and eventually punched one of them in the face, cutting his lip. Additional Carabinieri officers from the city of Aviano were called in to assist and held him in custody until a hearing before a local judge.