In a ruling sure to heighten migration tensions in the EU, Italy’s highest court rules “Theft Not a Crime if Hungry“.
Stealing small amounts of food to stave off hunger is not a crime, Italy’s highest court of appeal has ruled.
Judges overturned a theft conviction against Roman Ostriakov after he stole cheese and sausages worth €4.07 (£3; $4.50) from a supermarket.
Mr Ostriakov, a homeless man of Ukrainian background, had taken the food “in the face of the immediate and essential need for nourishment”, the court of cassation decided.
Therefore it was not a crime, it said.
In 2015, Mr Ostriakov was convicted of theft and sentenced to six months in jail and a €100 fine.
However, his case was sent to appeal on the grounds that the conviction should be reduced to attempted theft and the sentence cut, as Mr Ostriakov had not left the shop premises when he was caught.
Italy’s Supreme Court of Cassation, which reviews only the application of the law and not the facts of the case, on Monday made a final and definitive ruling overturning the conviction entirely.
“The condition of the defendant and the circumstances in which the seizure of merchandise took place prove that he took possession of that small amount of food in the face of an immediate and essential need for nourishment, acting therefore in a state of necessity,” wrote the court.
Given that theft is no longer a crime, I expect an enormous outbreak of theft from Italian grocery stores.