Defendants Acquitted in 2017 Tourist Death

The basilica of Santa Croce

Spanish tourist Daniel Testor Schnell, died while visiting the church of Santa Croce in 2017, killed by a large 15 kilo (33 lb-) fragment of stone that fell on him from the ceiling of the basilica. Five representatives employed or previously employed by the organization that oversees Santa Croce (Opera di Santa Croce) were taken to trial and accused of not having carried out adequate control and monitoring of the monumental complex.

On April 18, 2023, the court of Florence acquitted all defendants from the Opera di Santa Croce for the death of Schnell.  The then president of the Opera di Santa Croce Irene Sanesi, the preceding president Stefania Fuscagni, the general secretary Giuseppi De Micheli, and technician Marco Pancani, were all taken to court and requested by prosecutor Benedetta Foti to be charged with manslaughter. If convicted, Sanesi faced nine months in prison, one year in prison for Fuscagni, and one year and six months for both De Micheli and Pancani.

Schnell’s family did not file a civil lawsuit after receiving compensation of 2 million and 250,000 euro.

Former president of the Opera di Santa Croce, Irene Sanesi, made a statement in response to this ruling. “Great satisfaction for a sentence that does justice to the commitment of the Opera di Santa Croce and of those who have guided it, always favoring the attentive care of the monumental complex and its extraordinary heritage, a place that welcomes visitors from all over the world. My thoughts continue to go to the family of Daniel Testor Schnell and I am deeply saddened by what happened.” (Abby Capra)