Union leader killed in Italy when truck forces picket line

ROME (AP) — A labor union leader was killed in northern Italy when a truck apparently broke through a picket line outside a supermarket warehouse facility Friday and struck him.

Italian Premier Mario Draghi expressed sorrow for the death of Adil Belakhdim, 37, and said “it’s necessary that light is immediately shed on what happened.”

According to Italian news reports and union officials, about 20 people who work in logistics for the international supermarket chain Lidl were protesting outside the facility when a truck driver drove through a line of picketers blocking a gate. An unidentified witness told Italian state TV the vehicle struck Belakhdim and dragged him 37, was struck and dragged for several yards.

Italian media said the driver apparently fled the scene in the municipality of Biandrate and was stopped by police on a nearby highway. He was taken to a police station for questioning. It wasn’t immediately clear if any charges would be lodged.

The picketers were pushing for better working conditions overall for those in the supermarket logistics sector, which generally includes packing and loading merchandise and food.

Two other protesters were also reported hit by the truck and suffered minor injuries, the LaPresse news agency said.

LaPresse quoted a union leader, Attilio Fasulo, as calling for an immediate strike in the sector to protest what happened.

Fasulo described both the fatally injured union leader and the truck driver as “victims” of labor tensions in the logistics sector. He added that union officials “for some time have been asking for better working conditions.”

Lidl Italia didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

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