ROME, Feb 21 (Reuters) – Leaders of Italian heavy metal rock band Beasts of Satan went on trial on Monday for slaying two teenagers in Satanic ritual murders that shocked the Roman Catholic country.
Grieving relatives listened in horror to details of the gruesome, cult murders dating back to 1998, when band members went on a drug-induced killing spree that led to the deaths of lead singer Fabio Tollis, 16, and his 19-year-old girlfriend.
But prosecutors in the northern city of Busto Arsizio only asked for a reduced 20-year sentence for band leader Andrea Volpe, the alleged mastermind of the double homicide, because he had assisted the authorities.
Volpe is also charged with killing his ex-girlfriend last year, shooting her in the mouth and then mutilating her body in another human sacrifice.
“It’s like my son has died all over again,” Tollis’ mother, Ellena, told reporters at the courtroom.
Tollis was killed with a hammer blow to the head when he tried — and failed — to stop the murder of his girlfriend, Chiara Marino.
“They’re killers, not beasts. To call them beasts is offensive to animals,” said Chiara’s mother, Lina Marino. “They should never be freed.”
The petite 19-year-old was stabbed to death under a full moon by band members who apparently believed she was a personification of the Virgin Mary. She had decorated her bedroom with black candles and goat skulls.
The trial was placed in the so-called fast-track category whereby defendants who agree to the time-saving procedure and assist the police can have their sentences drastically reduced.
But the chilling nature of the murders prompted many Italians to question whether the defendants — who could have faced much longer sentences in an ordinary trial — should have been allowed to benefit from the fast-track procedure at all.
Reforms Minister Roberto Calderoli expressed outrage and said the prosecutors’ demands were too lenient.
“Is that how little human life is worth?” he said.
Prosecutors asked for more than 16 years in jail for band member Pietro Guerrieri on charges of murder and 2 years for Mario Maccione on charges of criminal association.
The Satanic killings set off a flurry of debate in Italy and the Vatican about a feared spread of devil cults, with as many as 5,000 Italians thought to be members.