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American Boy’s Accused Killer Freed as Reward for Becoming Witness

November 8, 1996

CATANZARO, Italy (AP) _ A court has freed a man on trial for the murder of Nicholas Green, the American boy killed while on vacation in Italy, because the defendant cooperated with investigators.

The release of Michele Iannello, who was arrested and jailed a month after the 7-year-old boy’s killing in September 1994, brought immediate protests from lawmakers and ordinary Italians.

The court agreed to the release Thursday, and Iannello was taken to a secret location in northern Italy for his protection, according to newspapers.

The murder trial, which has been on a break, resumes in this southern city on Nov. 27.

Nicholas’s slaying by bandits who fired on his parent’s rental car during a family vacation in Italy provoked shock and anger across the country.

His parents, Maggie and Reginald Green of Bodega Bay, Calif., donated their son’s organs, saving the lives of seven Italians, and stirring a campaign to increase organ donation in Italy, where the practice is relatively limited.

Police said Iannello, 28, began cooperating with mob investigators about 1 1/2 years ago. At the time of Nicholas’ slaying, he was an emerging boss of the crime syndicate in the Calabria region, where the boy was killed.

Iannello admitted mob-related killings and his testimony led to the jailings of other mob figures. But he maintained his innocence in the Green murder, despite allegedly incriminating conversations secretly taped by police.

Authorities said Iannello and an accomplice also on trial, Francesco Mesiano, mistook the Greens’ car for that of a jeweler they intended to rob.

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