A British fitness trainer has asked for forgiveness as he faces five years in an Italian prison for defacing the historic Colosseum.
Millions of people around the world watched as Ivan Dimitrov, also known as Ivan Hawkins, scribbled his name on the 2,000-year-old monument – along with that of his girlfriend Hayley Bracey.
He has now apologized to police for defacing the old brickwork, an act which an outraged tourist watching him caught on camera and shared online.
However, officers appear determined to press charges against the 27-year-old and his girlfriend, 33, after tracking them down.
The couple, who live in Bristol, visited the Italian capital of Rome as part of a three-week European tour.
However, they had already traveled to Bulgaria before being tracked down by Italian police, who identified them using CCTV footage and hotel records.
Major Roberto Martina of the Italian paramilitary police Carabinieri has now told it MailOnline: “Colleagues have spoken to the man and he has expressed his apologies and sincere regret for what he has done.”
“He told us he was very upset about what he had done and kept apologizing for it.
“I think he was concerned about the consequences of any trial and we explained to him that he faces between two and five years in prison and a fine of up to 15,000 euros.”
Bulgarian Dimitrov, who not only runs his own fitness business but is also a part-time delivery driver, was filmed last week vandalizing the site by California vacationer Ryan Lutz.
He was seen carving the words “Ivan and Hayley 23” with a bunch of keys.
Mr Lutz posted the video online where he can be heard saying to Mr Dimitrov: “Are you serious man? That sucks, man – stupid asshole.”
Italy’s Culture Minister Gennaro Sangiuliano called the vandalism an “uncivilized and absurd act” that “offended all those around the world who appreciate the value of archaeology, monuments and history”.
He added, “Now I hope justice will take its course by consistently applying the laws.”
The Colosseum previously made headlines when visitors complained about being charged £430 for outdoor photos with men dressed as Roman centurions.
But it was another tourist who risked getting into trouble when he was accused of trying to smuggle home a brick he torn from the walls of the Colosseum.
The Colosseum is part of a model of ancient Rome by archaeologist Italo Gismondi, commissioned by fascist dictator Benito Mussolini and featured in the Oscar-winning Russell Crowe film Gladiator.