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A dead body on a wet road in front of a truck, a Hitchcockian girl and a very special car. These elements form a puzzle still missing several vital pieces 22 years later. Donato Bergamini, a handsome and talented Cosenza midfielder, was found dead on the 18th November on the Statale Ionica, near Roseto Spulico. Everybody called him Denis but who really was Donato Bergamini and why did he die? A botched inquiry established he had committed suicide because he was unsatisfied with his life in the provinces but too many questions remained unanswered.
Denis was a man who knew too much, he wrote, so he was murdered and the killing staged to seem like suicide. He was the wrong man in the wrong place at the wrong time, caught up in a circle that involved drug trafficking and fixed matches Petrini suggested. Thanks to the stubborness of his family the case will be shortly be reopened.
Denis Bergamini was a year-old winger born in Argenta in Emilia-Romagna. He was equally good in both defence and attack but more importantly, his energy and pace up and down the left flank was without equal. He debuted with amateur teams in Emilia, Imola and Russi and then in , Cosenza bought him in the hope he would be the man to change their fortunes.
They celebrated a promotion in the season, coached by Gianni Di Marzio but driven on the pitch by Bergamini and his friend and top-scorer Michele Padovano. During the season Cosenza pushed for promotion to Serie A but results went against them and it proved a bridge too far. Denis Bergamini died at approximately The first and up until now the only version of events that emerged during the trial, established Bergamini launched himself under a truck loaded with tangerines.
The truck driver, Raffaele Pisano, confessed he had dragged his body for about 60 metres before stopping to check. They were unofficially engaged in she was a minor at the time but by had split, continuing to date occasionally. During the trial she said they stopped in a muddy lay-by to talk.
Denis parked his white Maserati, licence plate FE, and asked his girlfriend to take the car back while he hitchhiked to Taranto. In her words she tried to persuade him to change his mind, he refused and went out without wearing his coat to start hitchhiking. The Appeal trial finally finished in Her version of events, however, throws up more questions than answers.
First of all, the position of the corpse and the marks on his body tell a different story. The body was in front of the truck, legs bent towards the guard-rail.
The coroner established he died from a huge thoracic trauma. So far it could be argued, no signs that his body had been dragged for 60 metres under a truck loaded with tangerines. When his family his father Domizio and mother Maria Zerbini as well as sister Donata went to the ER in Trebisacce where his body had been taken to identify the corpse, a nurse gave Maria his necklace, still perfectly intact.
She was asked not to touch the body due to the injuries inflicted and in the end the identification had to be completed by two officials from Cosenza, president Antonio Serra and sports director Roberto Ranzani. After the last game of the season at Trieste, Domenico Corrente and Alfredo Rende travelled together in the same car. As they drove on not far from where the body of Denis Bergamini was found, they had a crash and died. An autopsy was eventually conducted 50 days after his death. The body was exhumed and no sign of dragging or broken bones was found.
The marks and injuries found on his body were compatible with a single scenario — he was already lying down when the truck wheels ran over him.
Curiously however, he had reserved two separate rooms. The following Thursday, just two days before his death, three men came and took Denis from a restaurant he was dining in. Where did they take Denis? Nobody knows. So now events had moved to what would be the last day of his life and the day before Cosenza had to play a home game against Messina. As with every Saturday before a home game the whole team went to the Garden cinema, just as they had done for four years now.
Other teammates revealed they saw Denis going out of the cinema at around Who were these men? Where were they going? Were there any signs in his behaviour that suicide was playing on his mind? During a TV program focusing on cold cases and people who had disappeared in unusual circumstances, his sister said that just days before his death he cut all the feet out of his team mates socks as a joke.
In the days before his death he met with friends regularly and indeed on the very last morning of his life, he showed his family his delight at the cheque for his wages and bonuses that had arrived from the club. He had also already reserved tickets for his parents so that they could travel as a family over the Christmas period. In other words, nothing suggested a trace of depression or a will to commit suicide.
Then why did Denis die? What do they have in common? Francesco Sprovieri, a local with a criminal past. It was him who introduced Isabella to Denis, the two meeting when she was a minor. Was Denis killed because he violated her honour in leaving her? The car had a pair of false floors in the footwells, one hypothesis claiming that Sprovieri presented Isabella to Denis and sold the car to him because he wanted to use him as a drug carrier and Isabella as his guarantee. It was thought that these boxes of chocolates Denis had been given to transport hid drugs — probably cocaine.
Was this the real motive behind his death? Did he discover what he was being used for and refuse to go along with it, to be used in such a way again?
A third hypothesis suggests he could have discovered that some of his team had been bribed to influence the results of certain matches. This is not for certain but there is some substance to this theory. After 22 years, the Preliminary Hearing Judge in Castrovillari has decided to reopen the case for voluntary murder against persons unknown. Hopefully he will find some of the answers to explain why a year old handsome and talented midfielder died on the streets of Calabria that dark and stormy night in November of This article originally appeared in In Bed with Maradona.
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Carlo Petrini 29 March — 16 April was an Italian professional football player and coach. He played for 8 seasons games, 19 goals in the Serie A for A. Milan , Torino F. Varese , Ternana Calcio , A.
Il calciatore suicidato
Carlo Petrini (footballer)