Italy's interior minister says an Italian man, described as a soccer hooligan, has been held in the fatal bludgeoning of a Nigerian asylum-seeker who had fled the Islamic extremist group Boko Haram.

Emmanuel Chidi Namdi was killed Tuesday in the town of Fermo. Interior Minister Angelino Alfano visited the town Thursday and said that Italy welcomes migrants.

A priest who shelters asylum-seekers says the hooligan used a racial slur against the man's wife and was dragging her. The victim was beaten, apparently after trying to defend his wife, and went in a coma. He died Wednesday.

The victim, and his later-to-be-wife, both Christians, fled after Boko Haram attacked their village church, eventually sailing on a smuggler's boat from Libya, and arriving in Italy eight months ago. The couple later married.