Italian police have identified a man from England as the likely culprit after graffiti was scribbled on a wall at the Colosseum – sparking widespread anger.
A bearded young man in a blue flowery shirt was pictured in a video posted on social media on Saturday scratching his and his girlfriend’s name with a key on an internal wall of the ancient Roman stone amphitheatre.
He left the inscription “Ivan + Hayley 23”.
Italy’s Carabinieri police said they had been helped to identify the couple by photographic evidence but did not name them.
A police source said the man had been placed under formal investigation but the couple had left the country before the authorities could catch up with them.
The man risks a fine of at least 15,000 euros (£12,928) and a jail sentence of up to five years if he were to be convicted in Italy.
The graffiti caused outrage, with Italy’s culture minister Gennaro Sangiuliano saying: “This act was offensive to everyone around the world who appreciates the value of archaeology, monuments and history.”
Built 2,000 years ago, the Colosseum was the biggest amphitheatre in the Roman empire and used to host gladiator fights, executions and animal hunts.
Today, it is Italy’s most popular tourist attraction.