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Pope Francis meets parents of young man found dead in Tiber

Published 06/07/2016

Pope Francis met with the parents of US student Beau Solomon whose body was found in the River Tiber
Pope Francis met with the parents of US student Beau Solomon whose body was found in the River Tiber

Pope Francis has met with the parents of a US college student whose body was found in Rome's Tiber river this week, less than 24 hours after the youngster arrived in Italy.

Police are trying to establish if the teenager was murdered after visiting the country for summer classes.

A Holy See statement said Francis expressed to Beau Solomon's parents "feelings of deepest sympathy and compassion, and his closeness in prayer to the Lord for the young man who died so tragically."

The pope held the unscheduled, private encounter shortly before holding an audience with French pilgrims in a Vatican auditorium.

Solomon's roommate told school officials he last saw him early on Friday at a pub popular with US students in the Trastevere neighbourhood of cafes, bars and restaurants near the Tiber.

The 19-year-old, who had just completed his first year of study at University of Wisconsin-Madison, arrived in the Italian capital on Thursday for study at John Cabot University, a four-year, English-language institution not far from the pub.

Preliminary autopsy results indicated that Solomon had suffered injuries consistent with a fall.

On Tuesday, police detained a homeless Italian man they described as being "seriously suspected of murder aggravated by futile motives."

Solomon's body was found on Monday a few miles downriver from Trastevere.

A companion of the Italian, who lived in an improvised camp near the base of one of the river's bridges, told reporters Solomon had descended stairs leading from another bridge, accompanied by some north African men who she claimed had robbed him.

Then, according to her account, her companion, identified by police as Massimo Galioto, 40, scuffled with Solomon. Some witnesses have told authorities the student was pushed into the river.

Solomon's credit cards were used on Friday in Milan, and police are investigating whether other, still unidentified persons, had robbed him.

Across the river on the other bank, a summer-long fair, featuring food booths and artisans' shops, has been drawing thousands of visitors nightly.

It was not clear at what time Solomon was spotted on the river bank.

Authorities hope an autopsy will determine cause of death, as well as whether Solomon was alive when he went into the Tiber.

AP

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