Italian restaurateur Mario Cattaneo stands accused of manslaughter after killing an intruder inside his eatery — but the incident certainly hasn’t hurt his business.
Cattaneo, the chef and owner Osteria dei Amis in Gugnago, Italy, has reportedly been cooking for a packed house of locals, reporters and politicians who turned out to support his claim that he acted in self-defense.
On Friday, Cattaneo says that he and his family were sleeping in his apartment above the Osteria dei Amis when he heard a commotion from the restaurant. He grabbed his hunting rifle and went downstairs, where he came face-to-face with three intruders.
Cattaneo alleges that a brief scuffle ensued, during which time he was knocked to the floor. He also says that this is when his rifle discharged.
"It went off when I fell to the ground,” said Cattaneo, reports the AFP. “One of them was trying to grab the gun off me and he dragged me along for several meters.”
Cattaneo also says he wasn’t aware that he had killed anyone until later, when he was being treated for his bruises.
"It was dark and I didn't see what happened,” Cattaneo alleged. “I only found out someone had died when I was in hospital. I'm really sorry that someone has lost their life."
The man Cattaneo killed was a 33-year-old Romanian national who lived nearby. Investigators have also disclosed that the intruder was shot in the back, and his body found just over 100 yards from the restaurant.
Cattaneo is currently being investigated for “suspicion of voluntary manslaughter.” If convicted, he faces a minimum of 21 years in prison.
Meanwhile, Cattaneo and his supporters are arguing that the chef acted in self-defense. A friend of Silvio Berlusconi, Italy’s former prime minister, is even arranging to pay for Cattaneo’s legal bills.
Another group, led by Italian politician Matteo Salvini, is calling for lawmakers to amend self-defense laws in response to the incident.
"A dead man is never good news, but the Italian citizens stand by Mario Cattaneo," Salvini wrote in a tweet on Sunday. "No judge can convict him."
Cattaneo was reportedly re-opened on Sunday, but his son says the family is still reeling from the incident.
"We've re-opened, because one needs to start over, go forward, but our morale is very low,” said Gianluca Cattaneo, reports the Associated Press.
"We wanted to re-open today thanks to the strength of our customers and to say thanks."