Mario Cipollini, 2012. (Photo by Tim De Waele/Getty Images)

Prosecutor seeks 2.5 year prison sentence for Mario Cipollini

The domestic violence and stalking case involving the ex-World Champion is nearing its end.

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The public prosecutor of Lucca, Letizia Cai, has asked for a two and a half year prison sentence for Mario Cipollini, arguing that the former World Champion “is guilty of mistreatment in the family, stalking his ex-wife and threats to the ex-wife’s partner.”

Cipollini – winner of almost 200 races, including 12 stage wins at the Tour de France and 42 at the Giro d’Italia, and founder of Cipollini Bikes – first appeared in court in March 2019, answering to allegations of violence and stalking related to a series of incidents in 2016 and 2017.

The complainants are his former wife, Sabrina Landucci – who was married to Cipollini from 1993 to 2006 – and Landucci’s new partner, former footballer Silvio Giusti. Landucci’s brother Mario – another former footballer – also filed a complaint.

Under Italian law, the charges against Cipollini could range between two and six years imprisonment for mistreatment within the family, and six months to four years for communicating threats.

The prosecutor has argued for two years for injuries and threats against Landucci, and a further six months for threats against Giusti. Landucci’s lawyer, Susanna Donatella Campione, is seeking damages of €80,000 for her client in addition to any custodial sentence.

The court has heard that Cipollini allegedly “performed a series of acts damaging the physical and mental integrity” of Landucci, through “punches, slaps, kicks … injuries and death threats”.

The most serious incident before the court is the alleged assault of Landucci at her workplace “in front of colleagues and clients” on January 6, 2017. According to Landucci, “[Cipollini] grabbed my neck and then banged my head against the wall … I had to go to the emergency room.”

Landucci also alleges that Cipollini told her “I’ll kill you. You’ll hear the sound of the bones when they break.” Other testimony included allegations that Cipollini stalked her, and threatened “to tear [Landucci’s] brains out with his hands.”

In February 2020, Cipollini was in court for an unrelated 2017 incident, facing allegations that he beat and threatened his sister, Tiziana Cipollini, during an argument about the custody of his pet chihuahua. Those charges were later dropped.

Despite the proceedings against Cipollini, he remains a popular figure in Italian cycling.

In the three years since the current case was opened, a series of delays due to COVID and Cipollini’s ill-health have drawn matters out into a series of intermittent hearings.

In that time, startling testimony has emerged, most notably from Landucci’s mother, Giovanna Di Simo, who testified to a history of domestic abuse in her daughter’s marriage.

“[Cipollini] kept a gun under his pillow. I saw him with my own eyes grabbing Sabrina by the neck at the bottom of the stairs of my house and then chasing her in the garden, wearing a brace on his knee after a skiing accident, armed with a revolver,” she said.

There were also, she said, “phone calls with screams that were heard even without hands-free, both day and night … text messages sent a hundred times a day. Possessive and jealous. First he cried and asked for forgiveness, asking her to go home and then he started insulting her and threatening her and all her relatives … once their maid telephoned me telling me to run to Cipollini’s house because she feared he would kill Sabrina,” Di Simo said. “I rushed over there and noticed red marks on her neck as if the then husband had grabbed her by the throat. She cried and told me that he had also dragged her by the hair. I invited her to go to the emergency room, but she was afraid, both for us family members and for not wanting to ruin Cipollini’s career.”

Mario Cipollini denies the allegations, telling the court that he never attacked or beat his ex-wife, never threatened her with a gun, and grabbed her by the arm rather than the neck.

His defence team – who have always maintained Cipollini’s complete innocence – will make their closing remarks on July 13, when the verdict is expected to be delivered.  

Resources
-Europe: Say No! Stop Violence Against Women country helpline database
-USA: National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1800 799 7233
-NZ: It’s Not OK at 0800 456 450
-Australia: 1800RESPECT at 1800 737 732

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