ROME -- The parents of 6-year-old Alfredo Rampi, who died when attempts to rescue him from an artesian well failed, are being subjected to telephone harassment, including suggestions that the father pushed the boy down the well, a relative said Tuesday.
Adriano Bizzarri, Alfredo's uncle and brother of his mother Francesca, held a news conference at the office of the family lawyer to denounce the harassment.
'After the first wave of emotion and affection, some people, who are not worth a spit in the face, have started saying incredible things about our family,' he said.
'My sister is receiving continuous telephone calls from people who still want to help and we thank these people,' he said. 'But there are others who question whether my brother-in-law is really Alfredo's father and whether we are sure it was not he who threw the boy in the well.'
Bizzarri's complaint reflected the wave of recrimination and bitterness that has engulfed Italy since rescuers failed to recover the boy alive after three nights and three days of nonstop effort. Legal authorities formally declared Alfredo 'presumed dead' on Sunday and efforts were now concentrated on recovering the body.
Bizzarri said his sister and her 40-year-old accountant husband, who remained at the scene of the tragedy among the vineyards on the fringe of Frascati, south of Rome, throughout the rescue effort, were a devoted married couple.
He said they both loved Alfredo and once took him to the United States for a medical consultation about his heart condition. Alfredo was born a 'blue baby.'
He also said Mrs. Rampi, overcome with distress after she became convinced her son was dead, fell prey to one of these invaders of her home, 'a certain Roberto, from Modena' who claimed to be a medical man.
'She was seeking something to hold on to and fell prey to the ravings of this madman,' Bizzarri said.
He said 'Roberto' told Mrs. Rampi that Alfredo was still alive, but was in a well near Modena, in northern Italy. Finally the family gave 'Roberto' $20 and he went away.
Two state prosecutors investigating the tragedy issued summonses against four people to be questioned about possible 'complicity in manslaughter'. The four included the man who directed the digging of the well and a man who excavated the ground around it.
On Monday the magistrates arrested and jailed Professor Amedeo Pisegna, 43, a school teacher on whose land the well was dug, on a charge of manslaughter.