Italy’s top court legalizes stealing small amount of food when hungry

The decision was made during the case of a homeless man named Roman Ostriakov.

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This week, Italy’s highest court has legalized stealing small amounts of food when in desperate need. The decision was made during the case of a homeless man named Roman Ostriakov. In 2011, the guy was caught stealing a sausage and some cheese from a Genoa supermarket.

Ostiakov stole goods worth $4.50. The food was hidden under his jacket while he paid for his breadsticks. He was arrested after a customer informed the store’s security of the theft. In 2013, he was found guilty and sentenced to six months in prison.

This week, the Supreme Court of Cassation overturned the verdict in Ostriakov’s case, ruling that stealing small amounts of food to stave off hunger is not a crime.

“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,” said the court.

This decision of the court has been received warmly in Italy. People label it as an act of humanity, one that’s meaningful during a time when a considerable amount of the population is stuck in poverty.

“In recent years the economic crisis has increased dramatically the number of citizens, especially the elderly, forced to steal in supermarkets to be able to make ends meet,” said Carlo Rienzi, president of the consumer rights group, Codacons.

“The supreme court has established a sacrosanct principle: a small theft because of hunger is in no way comparable to an act of delinquency because the need to feed justifies the fact,” he continued.


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