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Police say tourist filmed allegedly carving ‘Ivan+Hayley’ on Rome’s Colosseum has been identified

By Julia Buckley, CNN

(CNN) — He caused shockwaves around the world when he was filmed apparently carving his name into a wall of Rome’s 2,000-year-old Colosseum – and grinning when he realized he was caught on camera.

Now, he’s likely to be in shock himself.

The visitor who this week allegedly scratched “Ivan+Hayley 23” on a brick wall of one of the world’s most precious buildings, has been identified, according to Italy’s culture minister.

And after a spate of Americans trashing Italian heritage sites last year, some readers will be relieved to know that this time, the suspect isn’t from the US – he’s from the UK.

Culture Minister Gennaro Sangiuliano tweeted Thursday that the Carabinieri, a military police force, had “identified the person presumed to be responsible for the uncivilized and absurd act committed at the Colosseum.”

“An act that offended everyone across the globe who appreciate the value of archaeology, of monuments and of history,” he added.

His tweet confirmed that “Ivan and Hayley” are thought to be the names of the tourist and his girlfriend, who was filmed watching on as he carved their names.

In a second tweet, Sangiuliano suggested that the case will go to trial.

Threat of prison

“I hope that justice will take its course, applying the law rigorously,” he wrote.

“If it comes to trial, the Ministry of Culture will appear as a plaintiff.”

If convicted of a crime, the man could face a fine of at least 15,000 euros ($16,360) or up to five years in prison, according to Italian news agency Ansa.

The Piazza Venezia branch of the Carabinieri released a statement to CNN confirming that the suspect had been traced, and the couple are believed to be from the UK.

Police “identified the main suspect through traditional investigations and photographic comparison,” they wrote.

“The carabinieri have confirmed that that it is a couple, a man and a woman, resident in England.

“It should be noted that proceedings are at the preliminary investigation stage so the suspect must be considered innocent until any final [court] ruling.”

Sangiuliano added in a statement that a government bill that would “make those who outrage our heritage answer for it personally” is currently passing through parliament. The bill would hold vandals responsible “including in terms of assets,” he said.

“People who cause damage must pay.”

Tourists vandalizing the Colosseum is sadly nothing new. In 2020, an Irish tourist was reported to the police for allegedly carving his initials into a wall.

Last August, an American couple were caught carving their initials into the Arch of Augustus, a 2,000-year-old monument beside the Colosseum.

CNN’s Sharon Braithwaite contributed to this story.

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