A teen who is credited with saving the lives of his fellow schoolmates is being rewarded with Italian citizenship.
Ramy Shehata, 13, used a hidden cellphone to call his father for help after his school bus was hijacked by its driver, who allegedly threatened to burn those on board alive.
"No one will survive," the driver allegedly said, according to Italy's ANSA news agency.
The driver, who reportedly had a knife and a gun, allegedly tied up two of the chaperones on the bus and then had a third collect the students' phones, but Ramy kept his out of sight and called his father to ask for help while pretending to pray in Arabic, ANSA reported.
Thanks to his call, police were able to catch the bus and stop it, breaking the glass in the rear windows to rescue all those aboard as the driver set it aflame.
"He is our hero," a fellow student said of Ramy.
A lawyer for the driver, identified by local authorities as 47-year-old Ousseynou Sy, denied that his client had a gun. Sy is being held on multiple counts, including kidnapping, attempted mass murder and more. He had worked for Autoguidovie, the bus company, since 2004, according to a statement from the company.
Ramy's father, Khaled, told ANSA that he immigrated to Italy from Egypt in 2001 and Ramy was born in 2005 but never officially received citizenship. According to Italian law, Ramy must wait until he is 18 to apply for citizenship.
"My son did his duty, it would be nice if he got Italian citizenship now," Khaled said in the wake of the incident, according to ANSA.
In response to Khaled's plea, Italy's interior ministry said it would fast-track Ramy's citizenship. "The interior ministry is ready to take care of the expense and to fast-track citizenship for this little hero," officials said in a statement.
According to those on board, Sy, who is originally from Senegal but was granted Italian citizenship himself in 2004, railed against the treatment of African migrants. During a standoff with police, he also reportedly shouted, "Stop the deaths at sea, I'll carry out a massacre," according to ANSA.
The interior ministry is looking to take away Sy's citizenship in the wake of the incident.