It’s a long life for Italians as number of centenarians triples

The number of centenarians in Italy has more than tripled in less than 15 years despite the growth in life expectancy stalling last year, a health report published Tuesday on revealed.

It's a long life for Italians as number of centenarians triples
The number of 100-plus citizens in Italy rose from 5,650 in 2002 to 19,000 in 2015. Photo: Stefano Mortellaro

From 5,650 in 2002 the number of 100-plus citizens had risen to 19,000 by last year, 83 percent of whom were women, the national health observatory reported.

Italy's ageing population was given as one of the reasons for a sharp spike in the number of deaths in 2015. The total of 54,000 was up nine percent on the 2014 figure.

The report's author, Alessandro Solipaca, said the impact of an outbreak of influenza early in the year and a summer heatwave had probably contributed to the trend by resulting in “avoidable deaths.”

The report also noted that public health spending had fallen from €112.5 billion to 110.5 billion between 2010 and 2014. Per capita spending in 2014 was half the level of Canada's.

Life expectancy in 2015 was put at 80.1 years for men and 84.7 in 2015, down by a couple of months from the 2014 figure.

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Italy row over self defence after burglar shot dead

An Italian restaurant owner who shot a burglar dead is being investigated for voluntary manslaughter, sparking calls on Saturday for changes to the country's law covering self-defence killings.

Italy row over self defence after burglar shot dead

Mario Cattaneo, 67, killed the burglar with a single shot from his hunting rifle early on Friday after hearing intruders breaking into his restaurant.

They apparently had the intention of stealing cigarettes from the adjacent tobacconist, according to police cited by Italian media.

A magistrate has placed the owner of the “Osteria dei Amis” in Gugnano near Milan under formal investigation on suspicion of committing a crime which carries a minimum prison term of 21 years.

It sparked howls of outrage from right-wing politicians.

Maurizio Gasparri, a close ally of Silvio Berlusconi, launched an appeal for funds to pay the restaurateur's legal bills. Regional president Roberto Maroni said: “It's the world turned upside down.”

Northern League leader Matteo Salvini called for a change in the law to ensure self-defence could automatically be invoked in such cases.

“A death is always terrible news but if this young man had gone to work instead of out robbing he would be alive today,” Salvini wrote on his Facebook page.

Italian law does provide for homicide charges to be reduced if a killer is deemed to have acted in legitimate defence, which usually requires the accused to show they had reasonable grounds to fear for their own life.

The circumstances of the latest episode were unclear.

The victim had been shot in the back and his body was found some 100 metres (320 feet) from the property. The owner told police his gun had gone off in a scuffle after the dead man tried to grab it from him.

The dead man could not be identified immediately because there were no identity papers on him and police did not have his fingerprints on file.