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Mario Paciolla, the ex-girlfriend: "In the last phone calls he was crying, he was afraid of being intercepted and stalked"


The Italian UN aid worker was found dead in Colombia on 15 July. The ex-girlfriend is one of the key witnesses in the investigation into his death

Mario Paciolla was convinced that he was under investigation, spied on and stalked. "He was obsessively worried and for this reason he had decided to return to Naples”. In the investigation into the death of the Italian aid worker found on July 15 in his apartment in San Vincente di Caguan, Colombia, where he worked for the United Nations, there is a key witness. Her name is Ilaria Izzo, she is 31, she had been his girlfriend for nine years and she spoke to him a few hours before he was found hanged and with his wrists cut. She also works in Colombia for the UN as field officer and was interrogated on 1 August by the magistrate of Fiscalia in videoconference with the lawyers and with the ambassador in Bogotà Gherardo Amaduzzi. The dossier sent diplomatically to the Italian investigators reconstructs what has happened in the recent weeks by giving an account of the convened meetings and also contains the story of those who shared life and work with him. After being warned of the discovery of Mario’s lifeless body, the woman was hospitalized in Calì, where her family members joined her. "She attempted suicide", Colombian authorities said as she explained that she was traumatized and in shock.

The internal investigation

The girl's story is contained in the service report. «Ilaria Izzo announced that she has known Paciolla since 2007 and that she had a nine-year love relationship with him, which ended in September 2019. Despite the breakup, the two maintained constant contact until a few hours before his death. Izzo said he had talked to Paciolla many times, especially in the last few days, when she would become "the only person he trusted." He stressed that his psychological conditions had progressively worsened and in the five days preceding his death, according to her also as a result of fears for the consequences of an alleged and unspecified internal UN investigation, of which Paciolla believed he was the subject. She reports that Mario had become "obsessive", having told her he was convinced of constantly being spied on and subjected to wiretapping and controls, also mentioning the CIA. Izzo also communicated that Paciolla, probably in relation to something he had witnessed, told her that he stopped trusting two colleagues of the mission, whose names are known to Fiscalia and are among the employees for which the United Nations has already granted the waiver of diplomatic immunity.

The phone calls

The woman explains that "Paciolla's family was in constant contact with him in the days before his death". And she adds that she too had been "contacted by telephone by Paciolla’s mother, who was very worried about her son's psychological state". Ilaria Izzo told the investigators that she was also aware of Paciolla's plans of returning to Italy. Indeed, on this very subject, dramatic tones would have been reached during one of the last telephone calls between her and Paciolla. According to the report, the woman declared that “she was aware of the fact that Paciolla had used her credit card to purchase, on the morning of 14.07.2020, two tickets bound for Italy: one for himself and the other for Izzo (without having consulted her beforehand), highlighting how she immediately informed him that she had no intention of leaving Colombia. This last fact may have furtherly contributed to alter the man’s emotional state.

The last phone call

According to what is written in the report, "Izzo declared that she had been on the phone for a long time with Paciolla on July 14 and that the conversations of that day were particularly agitated with continuous crying and screaming attacks from the compatriot who, at some point, would also have said that he "does not want to live anymore". According to Izzo, in the last call between the two, between 11.00 pm and 11.20 pm, he would have appeared in a quieter emotional state. He would confess her that she had been "the woman of his life" and that "he begged her to leave Colombia with him and use the plane ticket he had bought her".

The last conversation between Ilaria Izzo and Mario Paciolla would therefore have ended with this man's appeal, but without him revealing the reasons for his fears, the sudden distrust in the two colleagues, and his haste to leave. And the next morning Mario was already dead. "Izzo stated that she had uselessly called Paciolla, that she received at 10.10, from the coordinator of the UN mission in San Vicente, the news of the discovery of the lifeless body of her compatriot and that she had suffered a strong nervous shock and, because of that, went to a clinic in Cali».

by Fulvio Bufi and Fiorenza Sanzanini

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