The highest court of Italy on Monday has ruled that if impoverished Italians end up stealing small amount of food to satiate their hunger, then it will not be considered as committing a crime.
The Supreme Court of Cassation made this decision overruling a theft conviction against Roman Ostriakov, after the homeless Ukrainian stole cheese and sausages worth €4.07 ($4.50) from a supermarket in 2011. He was caught by another customer and convicted to theft. For this, he was sentenced to six months in jail in 2015 and was asked to pay a fine of €100.
The court decided that Ostriakov had taken the food “in the face of the immediate and essential need for nourishment” and hence, it was not a crime.
The decision drew a lot of support from the citizens. Massimo Gramellini, an editor at La Stampa newspaper, wrote in an opinion column that the judges were more keen on prevailing right to survival over right to property and such a judgement advocates that no one should at least starve in a civilized country.
Italy was hit by a major financial crises. In 2013, the poverty rate had hit a 16-year high. An estimated 30 per cent of the population was living below the poverty line in 2012. Statistics suggest 615 people are added to the ranks of the poor in Italy every day. Being close to the Mediterranean, it is also in the frontline of Europe’s migrant crisis.
Mr Ostriakov’s case heaps of criticism because for stealing food worth under €5, he went through three rounds in the courts before being thrown out.
The Supreme Court of Cassation ruled that stealing small quantities of food to satisfy a vital need will not constitute a crime.