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Former world champion Mario Cipollini has been found guilty on charges of violence and stalking, and sentenced to a three-year jail term. He was also ordered to pay €85,000 in fines.
In the long-running court case, Cipollini was defending himself against allegations of violence and stalking related to a series of incidents in 2016 and 2017 brought against him by Sabrina Landucci, Cipollini’s wife from 1993 to 2006. Landucci’s current partner, Silvio Giusti, and his brother Mario also filed complaints.
Letizia Cai, the public prosecutor of Lucca, described Cipollini as an “extremely violent, extremely threatening, and extremely abusive man”. She argued Cipollini should receive a two-year jail sentence for injuries and threats against Landucci, and a further six months for threats against Giusti. Landucci’s lawyer, Susanna Donatella Campione, sought damages of €80,000 for her client in addition to any custodial sentence.
Throughout the case – which has been in progress since March 2019, with delays related to COVID and the ill-health of both Cipollini and his lawyer – the court heard that Cipollini allegedly “performed a series of acts damaging the physical and mental integrity” of Landucci, through “punches, slaps, kicks … injuries and death threats”. At one point, Landucci said, Cipollini told her “I’ll kill you. You’ll hear the sound of the bones when they break.” At another point, he allegedly threatened “to tear [Landucci’s] brains out with his hands.”
The most serious incident before the court was the alleged assault of Landucci at her workplace “in front of colleagues and clients” on January 6, 2017. According to Landucci, “[Cipollini] grabbed my neck and then banged my head against the wall … I had to go to the emergency room.”
Landucci’s mother, Giovanna Di Simo, also testified to her awareness of domestic violence, including an eye-witness account of Cipollini chasing Landucci with a revolver. The court heard that at one point he also threatened his wife with a gun because he thought her skirt was too short.
Speaking after the judgment, an emotional Landucci said that she was happy with the sentence, “even though [it] comes at the end of a long and difficult path. Above all, it was difficult to hear in the courtroom how I was an inadequate mother: I have fought all my life for my daughters and I hope that this ruling will give courage to so many people who live this condition without finding the courage to take a step forward to get justice.”
The former couple have two daughters together, a fact that Landucci says motivated her desire to speak publicly against Cipollini. “I reluctantly [came forward] to protect not only myself but my two daughters; I had no alternative as a mother and as a woman … Do not ask me more, please. I would have preferred that my complaint remained confidential,” she told Italian newspaper Corriere Della Sera in 2017 after the allegations first surfaced.
As a racer Cipollini was the winner of almost 200 races, including 12 stage wins at the Tour de France and 42 at the Giro d’Italia. He is also the founder of Cipollini Bikes. Despite the serious charges against him, the flamboyant Italian has remained a regular sight at races and in local media. Two weeks ago he was the recipient of an award issued by the municipality of Pontedera, Tuscany, leading to a public backlash.
It’s not immediately clear whether his sentence will be custodial or suspended, nor when it will commence. As has been demonstrated repeatedly throughout this case, the wheels of Italian justice move slowly, and Cipollini’s lawyers have indicated that they will appeal the sentence.[ct_highlight_box_start]
- USA: National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1800 799 7233
- NZ: It’s Not OK at 0800 456 450
- Australia: 1800RESPECT at 1800 737 732