The father of an 18-year-old American held in a Rome prison in connection with the stabbing death of an Italian police officer last Friday says his son is innocent. Speaking through his lawyer after visiting him in prison for the first time, Fabrizio Natale, Gabriel Natale-Hjorth’s father, said his son did not know that Finnegan Elder, the 19-year-old Bay Area native and suspect who prosecutors say confessed to stabbing Rega 11 times, had a knife. “We are very upset by the predicament he’s in, but we are all fully convinced of his innocence,” Natale said. “He never imagined there would be a confrontation and did not know his friend was armed.” Natale-Hjorth was pictured blindfolded in police custody last weekend, but prosecutors say that the blindfolding happened before, not during, the interrogation. Police say the stabbing occurred as part of an undercover investigation into a botched drug deal. A Carabinieri police officer, 35-year-old Mario Cerciello Rega, died in the attack.
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