Marcello Di Finizio, an Italian businessman who lost his small seaside restaurant to economic calamities, came down from atop St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City late Wednesday night after spending nearly 24 hours perched on the dome with a sign telling the Italian government of President Mario Monti to end its economic-crushing austerity policies.
'I love life so much that I'm willing to risk it. If the Italian government wants to kill people that's fine, but they have to do it in front of millions of people,' he told reporters by phone.
His sign read, in part: 'Help! Enough Monti, Enough Europe... Do you call this growth? This is simply social butchery!'
'I'm not coming down. I'm desperate, I'm ready to risk my life,' he said just hours before agreeing to come down.
As Sky News reports:
Crowds of tourists, curious bystanders and pilgrims in St Peter's Square ogled at the sight of the defiant Di Finizio, who remained in clear view while Pope Benedict XVI held his weekly general audience to thousands of faithful.
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Italian media ran live television coverage of the ledge on Wednesday and Di Finizio could be spotted in the background of reports by journalists covering the latest hearing in the Vatican trial of the Pope's butler for theft.
Prime Minister Mario Monti has imposed a series of sweeping austerity measures to tackle the country's vast debt, but critics have accused him of failing to boost growth and of stifling the population with high taxes.
After more than 24 hours on the ledge, Di Finizio was pulled from the ledge by two firefighters.