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Mattarella decries Roma Gypsy girl's shooting

Mattarella decries Roma Gypsy girl's shooting

Italy must not become like the Wild West, Italy's president Sergio Mattarella said on Thursday after a 14-month-old Roma Gypsy girl was left paralysed by a bullet fired by a man from a Rome balcony.

"I was extremely affected by a recent news story," Mattarella told reporters at the so-called 'fan ceremony' before parliament's summer recess.

He was referring to the incident on 17 July in Rome's southern Centocelle suburb when a 59-year-old retired employee of the Italian Senate shot the baby girl as she and her mother were walking down his street.

"Italy cannot resemble a Far West where someone buys a rifle and shoots a one-year-old girl, ruining her health and her future," Mattarella said.

"This is barbarism and it must cause indignation," Mattarella underlined.

The shooter, an Italian, denies that he deliberately targeted the Roma Gypsy girl and claimed he accidentally fired the shot from his gun which had jammed.

He is currently under investigation for grievous bodily harm but not racial hatred.

The Roma Gypsy minority has frequently been targeted by hate crimes in Italy and far-right interior minister Matteo Salvini sparked outrage last month with his plan for a "register" of Roma and Sinti Gypsies, many of whom he has vowed to deport.

Gunmen have also wounded several Africans in shooting incidents this year in Italy amid rising anti-migrant sentiment and support for Salvini's League party - a junior partner in the populist coalition government.