Italian police sentenced for sleeping on the job

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Photo: Nunzio Mari/AFP
11:41 CET+01:00
Almost the entire squad in the north-eastern town of Rovigo, have been found guilty of fraud by Italy's top court after being caught sleeping on the job.

The charges date back to early 2008, when the 22 officers had pretended to be patrolling the streets at night when they were, in fact, either at the police station or sleeping in their car, reported.

As officers with the flying squad, the team was expected to be alert in order to be able to respond quickly to street crime such as fights, muggings, robberies or murders.

Their shirking was uncovered by Amalia du Ruocco, a superintendent who caught them out by planting recording devices in their cars and at the station.

The officers claimed they had been doing their job properly, arguing that they did respond to calls. But GPS data showed they had remained in a parked position all night.

They were first convicted by a Venice court in 2014, but appealed, with the case then being sent to Italy's Court of Cassation, which upheld the conviction.

The officers argued that bugging was a breach of their privacy, but the court dismissed their defences as "grotesque" and "absurd", pointing out that cars could not be considered a "private place" because they were the workplace, not just of the officer on patrol but also of their superiors overseeing the shift.

They were given jail terms ranging from ten months to two years.

But after all the judicial expense and years spent on the case, the officers won't have to do any jail time as the sentences are now suspended.

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They won't even have a criminal record because of a "benefit of mention" - a clause within Italian judiciary law which can be applied in cases where it is the first offence and where the sentence is of less than three years.

However, the clause would be revoked if a second offence is committed. 

Still, the top court's ruling comes amid a crackdown by the Italian government on work shirkers in the public sector. 

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