Coroner discovers cigarette burns and bruises on body of Canadian who fought ISIL
Nazzareno Tassone is shown in this undated image from a Facebook memorial page.
The body of a Canadian killed by ISIL six months ago was covered with cigarette burns and bruises, according to the autopsy report sent to the family by Global Affairs Canada.
The coroner who examined the remains in the northern Iraqi city Erbil last week concluded the wounds suggested that Nazzareno Tassone had been beaten and tortured with ropes and cigarettes.
But those familiar with the details believe it is more likely ISIL fighters mutilated his body after he was killed on Dec. 21 in Syria’s Raqqa province. Committing “outrages” on bodies is a war crime.
Tassone, 24, was one of the hundreds of international volunteers helping Kurdish forces battle ISIL. His body was recovered last month by Kurdish People’s Protection Units fighters.
His casket is in Erbil, awaiting final approval for the return trip to Ontario. The Canadian Heroes Foundation is planning to escort him from Toronto to his native Niagara Falls for burial.
Members of the Canadian Kurdish community held a memorial service at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Ottawa to honor Nazzareno Tassone who was killed in the city of Raqqa.
Wayne Cuddington/ Postmedia
The coroner’s graphic report is yet another testament to the depravity of ISIL. Former ISIL members have alleged the terrorist group had cut up corpses and dragged them behind vehicles.
According to the two-page autopsy report by Dr. Yasin Kareem Amin, Tassone died of internal bleeding, the result of a skull fracture caused by a “heavy, solid instrument to the head.”
The death certificate said he was killed “due to outside strike.” It is unclear whether he was struck with an object, hurt in an explosion or fell as ISIL captured his position. A Briton and three Kurds were also killed.
The autopsy report is striking for the long list of wounds noted by the coroner, from a broken rib and nose to bruises, “cigarette marks” and indications that his wrists had been bound.
Global Affairs Canada sent the report to Tassone’s mother last week, setting off several days of panic because the coroner had described the body as that of a man in his “mid-30s,” who was blond and 6-foot-3.
Tassone was a decade younger, had brown hair and was 5-foot-10. Also, witnesses said he had been shot in the hand, which was not noted in the coroner’s report. However, his identity was confirmed on Monday through photographs and dental records.
Born and raised in Ontario, Tassone left Edmonton a year ago, telling his mother he would be teaching English in Iraq. Instead he crossed into Syria and joined the Kurdish rebel faction known as the YPG.
“We joined an assault on a village, but were ambushed,” a fellow fighter wrote in a letter to his mother. “During the resulting firefight that lasted for four hours, Agir (Tassone) and Ryan (Locke, the Briton) were killed in their rear-guard action.”
The day after he was killed, ISIL posted photos of his body that showed none of the wounds the coroner described — a further indication he was desecrated following his death rather than tortured.
His mother Tina Martino, a Niagara Falls casino dealer, had given up on getting his body back and was days away from holding a memorial service last month when the YPG said he had been found.