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Italian police sentenced for sleeping on the job

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.

Italian police sentenced for sleeping on the job
Photo: Nunzio Mari/AFP

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, Today.it 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.

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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MAFIA

Italian police seize €250 million and arrest 56 in latest mafia blitz

In its latest mafia sting, Italian police took down a large 'Ndrangheta ring in southern Calabria, placing 56 people under investigation including a regional councillor and a former head of the regional tourism board.

Italian police seize €250 million and arrest 56 in latest mafia blitz

The early-morning blitz by over 300 police focused on areas of Calabria – Italy’s poorest region – under the control of the Mancuso clan, a powerful branch of the infamous ‘Ndrangheta, many of whose top operatives are among hundreds of defendants in an ongoing ‘maxi-trial’.

Fifty-six people, many already in prison, were put under criminal investigation for a series of crimes including mafia-related conspiracy, extortion, kidnapping, bribery and possession of weapons, police and prosecutors said.

READ ALSO: ‘Ndrangheta: It’s time to bust some myths about the Calabrian mafia

Besides alleged mafia members, the operation also snared businessmen, a regional councillor released from prison days earlier, a former head of the regional tourism board and two civil servants, police said.

The incarcerated boss of the clan, Luigi Mancuso, also known as “The Supreme”, is the biggest mafioso in the massive mafia trial that started in January 2021.

Still, police said, his clan and affiliates, including the La Rosa and Accortini families, have continued to dominate illegal activities in the Vibo Valentia province, which is located right on the toe of Italy’s boot and is widely known as the ‘Coast of the Gods’ due to its stunning coastal views.

One mafia scheme involved the infiltration of a foreign tour operator in Pizzo Calabro, overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea.

No one talks

In Calabria, the extent of the ‘Ndrangheta’s reach in the local economy has made it near impossible to eradicate it.

By controlling the bulk of cocaine flowing into Europe, the ‘Ndrangheta has surpassed Sicily’s Cosa Nostra in power and wealth. It has extended far beyond its rural roots and now operates internationally, with illegal gains reinvested in the legitimate economy.

In the area around Vibo Valentia, extortion of local businesses and the fixing of public tenders is also common.

The allegations against those arrested Thursday include the transport and sale of stolen farm machinery to Malta and Romania, police said.

The sting carried out on Thursday extended to other parts of Calabria, Palermo in Sicily and as far as Rome and Milan, police said.

READ ALSO: Meet Nicola Gratteri, the prosecutor leading Italy’s battle against the mafia

In a press conference, anti-mafia prosecutor Nicola Gratteri, whose efforts to defeat the ‘Ndrangheta have forced him to live under police escort for over 30 years, called the group a “fierce mafia syndicate” controlling areas around the tourist resort of Tropea.

Francesco Messina, who leads Italy’s organised crime investigative unit (DAC), cited the economic power of the clan, which relies locally on “substantial” extortion activity.

The “total absence” of complaints to authorities was striking, Messina said, underscoring the ‘Ndrangheta’s power to intimidate.

By Alexandria Sage

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