An Ethiopian migrant, Agitu Ideo Gudeta was raped and murdered by a Ghanaian employee on her farm where she raised goats for her cheese business, police said on Wednesday, December 30.
The suspect, Adams Suleimani, 32, who works on Gudeta’s farm in the northern Italian region of Trentino, has admitted to killing Gudeta, 42, with a hammer and raping her, Italian news agency Ansa reported.
According to the Italian daily Repubblica, Suleimani was brought in for questioning on Tuesday night based on evidence found at the scene.
Carabinieri are investigating allegations that he had assaulted and raped Ms Gudeta after an argument over an unpaid salary. He is being detained in Trento as the investigation continues.
It was gathered that neighbours began looking for Ms Gudeta after she failed to turn up for a business appointment though they could hear her mobile phone ringing and vibrating inside her flat.
Gudeta had made her home in the mountains of Trentino’s Valle dei Mocheni, making goat’s cheese and beauty products in her farm La Capra Felice (The Happy Goat), which was built on previously abandoned land.
Her story was reported by numerous international media, including Reuters , as an example of a migrant success story in Italy at a time of rising hostility towards immigrants, fueled by the right-wing League party.
Gudeta escaped from Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital, in 2010 after her participation in protests against ‘land-grabbing’ angered local authorities. Activists accused the authorities of setting aside large swathes of farmland for foreign investors.
On reaching Italy she was able to use common land in the northern mountains to build her new enterprise, taking advantage of permits that give farmers access to public land to prevent local territory from being reclaimed by wild nature.
Starting off with 15 goats, she had 180 by 2018 when she became a well-known figure.
“I created my space and made myself known, there was no resistance to me,” she told Reuters in a story that year.
As one of the few black people farming in the region, she had overcome persistent racial harassment to become a beloved figure in the valley.
She became a national symbol for environmentalism and integration after Radical Party politician Emma Bonino singled her out as an example of successful integration and courageous female entrepreneurship.
In 2019 she was nominated for the Luisa Minazzi-Environmentalist of the Year prize by the Italian environmentalist association Legambiente.
“Our entire group expresses sorrow over the assassination of a courageous woman who was passionate about her job and engaged in defending environmental and human rights,” said the Legambiente nominating committee in a statement.
“In the coming hours we will vigilantly follow the investigation into this unacceptable femicide, which follows in the wake of racist threats that Agitu Ideo Gudeta had received several times in recent years.”