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Horses dead in Tignano: The Judge rejects dismissal and orders new investigation


IHP President Richichi: “Great satisfaction, we never gave up. Now we’ll get to the truth”. 

The Preliminary Investigations Judge of the Court of Pisa refused to dismiss the case at the Public Prosecutor’s request on 30 May in relation to criminal proceedings initiated following the sudden death of 19 horses between 2018 and 2020 in Tignano, where IHP’s (Italian Horse Protection) Rescue Centre was based at the time of the events. The association, aided by lawyer Alessandro Niccoli of the Court of Pisa, opposed the request for dismissal, producing supporting elements to  their request, starting with the need to carry out subsoil analyses in search of possible toxic substances.  Judge Giuseppe Laghezza accepted IHP's opposition and ordered new investigations in order to understand what the horses died of, whether their death was due to environmental causes or by human hand, and, if so, who actually committed the killings.

 “We are very satisfied with the decision of the Judge, who evidently listened carefully to my deposition and became convinced that there are clear gaps in the medical-veterinary investigations related to the dramatic series of deaths of our horses in Tignano (Volterra)”, comments IHP President Sonny Richichi. “For two years, on several occasions, we have asked the authorities involved to set up a research panel, as well as to carry out investigations into the subsoil and to integrate the autoptic analysis with research that was unexplainably never undertaken, for example cyanide tests. All appeals that were ignored”.

 "I find that the declarations made by some vets - including Dr. Rosario Fico, Head of the National Reference Centre for Veterinary Forensic Medicine, who attributed the horses' death to a 'management problem' - are quite baffling. Even worse are the statements made by Dr Giuliana Terracciano, the anatomopathologist of the Experimental Veterinary Preventive Medicine Institute of Pisa, who performed most of the autopsies and talks about ‘possible unsuitable food management', as well as those of Dr Giusj Polizzi, Director of the  North-West Tuscany Local Health Authority, who declared: ‘In my opinion there are several factors, including the advanced age of the animals and, for the first cases, the transfer in prohibitive weather conditions and environmental factors related to poor pasture’, Richichi continues. Serious and offensive comments directed at an association that has been welcoming and taking care of abused animals seized by the judicial authorities since 2009, using the best vet skills and without receiving public funds, in fact performing a free service to the State. Meaningless phrases, but which definitely had an impact. I would like to point out that since we left Tignano and moved the Rescue Centre to Montaione nothing more has happened to the horses: the deaths recorded concern animals that have died peacefully of old age.  We never gave up to the 'no result’ statement, we have fought and protested hard against the lack of answers, and we reached out for truth and justice. We now expect more in-depth investigation, also based on the indications given in our opposition to dismissal of the case.



Death of IHP horses at Volterra, the association objects to the archiving of the case (May 2022)

IHP is urgently seeking a new location for its rescue centre (January 2021)

Mystery of the dead horses gets to Parliament (1 January 2021)

Autopsy performed on Lady Agata gives no clues as to the cause of death (26 December 2020)

IHP, another horse dies at the Tignano rescue Centre (19 December 2020)

IHP, sudden death of a mare. There have been 18 cases since 2018 (17November 2020)

IHP: three horses dead at the Tignano rescue Centre (April 2020)

Sudden death of horses: the search for the reason continues. National protocol

Preliminary results autopsies three horses who died in October (5 November 2019)

Volterra, the tragedy continues

Another two horses die at the IHP Rescue Centre (19 October 2019)

Sudden death of horses: IHP lodges a complaint

Another horse died at IHP Rescue centre

Sudden death of 8 horses at the IHP Rescue center