Italian prosecutor acknowledges oversight of stalking threat against pregnant woman who was later murdered

  • Italian prosecutor Marco Martani acknowledged that authorities may have underestimated a stalking threat against 26-year-old pregnant Vanessa Ballan, who was found stabbed to death in her home.
  • Ballan had filed a complaint against Bujar Fandaj after he attempted to enter her home and engaged in a series of aggressions on Oct. 26.
  • Authorities searched Fandaj’s house the next day, but the case was labeled non-urgent, leading to no further action against him.

An Italian prosecutor on Wednesday acknowledged that a stalking threat to a 26-year-old pregnant woman found stabbed to death in her home may have been underestimated by authorities who failed to take action against a former lover now suspected of killing her.

Prosecutor Marco Martani told reporters that the victim, Vanessa Ballan, had filed a complaint against the suspect, Bujar Fandaj, on Oct. 26, after he had climbed a gate attempting to get into the home she shares with her companion and 4-year-old son, as well as a series of other aggressions.

Authorities searched the man’s house the next day, after which “there were no longer episodes of harassment, of getting close, of threats,” Martani was quoted by Corriere della Sera as saying. “The case was labeled not urgent, which unfortunately has turned out to be unfounded.”


He said that authorities lacked the necessary indications to take further action. “The only measure that could have stopped the aggression would have been preventative detention, a provision for which there were not sufficient elements,’’ Martani said.

Women show banners reading ” You are healthy children of patriarchy” and “femicide is a state murder, the state does not protect us” as they gather on the occasion of International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, in Milan, Italy, on Nov. 25, 2023. An Italian prosecutor on Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2023 acknowledged that a stalking threat to a 26-year-old pregnant woman found stabbed to death in her home may have been underestimated by authorities who failed to take action against the man now suspected of killing her. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno, File)

Prosecutors said that the aggressor used a hammer to break a window to get into Ballan’s home near Treviso, north of Venice in the Veneto region, on Tuesday. Ballan, who was alone at the time, was stabbed at least seven times. A knife believed to be the murder weapon was found in the victim’s kitchen, and police recovered from the suspect’s residence a bag with a hammer, at least one more knife and other tools used for break-ins.

Fandaj, a Kosovo citizen living in Italy, was arrested late Tuesday in his home in a nearby town.

The two had engaged in an affair that started last year, and which she ended over the summer. The threats began soon after, and he frequently showed up at the supermarket where she worked as a cashier, prosecutors said.


Ballan’s murder comes just a month after Italy was shocked by the killing of 22-year-old Giulia Cecchettin, who was found dead, her throat slit, in a ditch in a remote area of the Alpine foothills also in the Veneto region. She had disappeared after meeting her ex-boyfriend for a burger. He was arrested in Germany and is in an Italian jail pending charges.

Cecchettin’s father, Gino, at her funeral implored men to be “agents of change” in a culture that “undervalues the lives of women,’’ urging them “not to turn away in front of signs of violence, even the slightest.”

Cecchettin was among 102 women murdered through mid-November this year in Italy, more than half by current or former intimate partners, according to the Interior Ministry. Updated figures were not immediately available.

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