August 9, 2006

Naples mayor says sorry after US tourist attacked

NAPLES, Italy (Reuters) - The mayor of Naples has
apologized to a U.S. tourist beaten up by a group of locals
after he gave chase to two muggers in the southern Italian

The tourist tried to pursue thieves who snatched his camera
while he photographed a monument. But instead of helping the
victim, a group of bystanders grabbed him and beat him up,
Naples police said on Wednesday.

"In the turmoil, the tourist was seriously kicked and
punched while the two (thieves) fled," the police said. The
suspected thieves, two locals, were later arrested and
identified by the tourist whom police did not name.

Naples Mayor Rosa Russo Iervolino said the action of the
locals in protecting the criminals darkened the city's name.

"To the American tourist, I say sorry, of course I do," she
was quoted as saying in Corriere della Sera newspaper which
said the victim was a 25-year-old man from Utah.

"To my fellow Neapolitans who attacked him I say their
behavior has given an uncivilized image of Naples."

Foreign tourists are drawn to the city for its history,
architecture and position on the bay of Naples at the foot of
the volcano Vesuvius, but it is almost as famous for its
Camorra mafia syndicate and high rate of petty crime.

Earlier this year, the city's tourism office offered free
plastic watches to hotel guests in the hope they would leave
expensive watches behind and prove less of a target to muggers.