Torture has finally been criminalized in Italy

Italian lawmakers on Wednesday finally passed a bill making torture a crime under national law, after years of parliamentary back-and-forth.

Torture has finally been criminalized in Italy
Activists hold placards against torture during a 2015 rally in Rome. Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP

Rome signed the UN Convention Against Torture in 1984 but had never transferred it into national legislation.

Lawmakers on Wednesday passed a bill that makes torture punishable by four to ten years in prison – 12 for members of the security forces – with 198 backing the legislation, 35 opposing it and 104 abstaining.

Torture is defined under the law as “intense physical suffering or psychological trauma verifiably caused by violence, grave threats or cruel actions”.

In 2015 the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) blasted Italy for police violence against anti-globalisation activists on the margins of a 2001 G8 summit in Genoa, judging that officers' actions against protesters sheltering in a school were akin to torture.

Several members of the Italian security forces were convicted after the violence, but this did not include any officers who had been at the scene.

The ECHR criticized this decision, saying it showed there was a “structural problem” with Italian legislation.

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Photo: Tiziana Fabi/AFP



 Italian police arrest mafia member after three women killed in Rome

Italian police on Saturday arrested a mafia member suspected of killing two alleged Chinese prostitutes and a Colombian sex worker in Rome, local media reported.

 Italian police arrest mafia member after three women killed in Rome

The bodies of the two Chinese women were discovered in a residential building in the upmarket Prati district on Thursday morning, while the body of the South American was found in an apartment in the same neighbourhood an hour later.

All three victims were stabbed, according to Italian media reports.

According to the Corriere della Sera newspaper, footage from surveillance cameras allowed police to identify 51-year-old Giandavide De Pau, who had been prosecuted in the past for drug trafficking and sexual assault.

The suspect is reportedly a member of a mafia clan headed by Michele Senese, who is currently serving a life sentence. De Pau is believed to have been one of Senese’s closest collaborators, acting as his personal driver and handyman.

In 2008 and 2011, the suspect had also spent time in a psychiatric hospital.

It is unknown whether the suspected killer was carrying out a mafia hit or acting alone, possibly under the influence of drugs, which were found at the home of some family members where he is believed to have sought refuge after the police manhunt got underway, Corriere della Sera reported.

Several newspapers had warned of a possible “serial killer” in the Italian capital.

The body of one of the Chinese victims was spotted by a neighbour where it lay, naked on a landing. The woman, believed to be in her 40s, had suffered head and stomach injuries, the newspaper said.

When police entered her apartment, they found the body of the second Chinese woman.

Nobody in the building appeared to have heard the murders take place, according to residents.

“Everybody knew there was a house of ill repute here, I’d see people arriving at 2:00 am, 3:00 am,” a woman who lived in the building told reporters.

The body of the Colombian, who was 65, was found by a friend, Corriere della Sera said.