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CRIME

Code Red: Italian prosecutors flooded by reports of domestic violence and sexual abuse

Italian prosecutors warned on Friday that a new law designed to fast-track cases of domestic and sexual abuse was overwhelming the system with record numbers of victim reports.

Code Red: Italian prosecutors flooded by reports of domestic violence and sexual abuse
An installation in Rome raising awareness of violence against women. Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP

The law, which came into force on August 9th and has been dubbed Italy's “Code Red”, requires prosecutors to gather information from alleged victims and decide how to proceed within three days of receiving police reports.

Since then there has been a spike in reports: some 30-40 incidents daily have been flagged in Milan, an average of 30 a day in Naples and 25 in Rome since the law took effect, the Repubblica daily said.

READ ALSO: Italy passes new domestic violence law

“It's not a case of a rise in crimes, but a rise in the number of reports by people who — encouraged by the new law — are going to the police,” said Genoa prosecutor Francesco Cozzi. 

Supporters say the new legislation has positive elements: it makes “revenge porn” and “deformation of looks” (causing permanent scarring) a crime and allows judges to clap electronic bracelets on those slapped with restraining orders.

But in large cities on-duty prosecutors have found themselves interviewing 20 complainants in an arc of 24 hours. Prosecutor sources in Milan described being “inundated by a flood of reports of alleged abuse, violence or persecution, day in and day out”, the Messaggero daily said.

READ ALSO: Almost half of Italian women report suffering sexual harassment


Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP

“I share the wish to speed up the intervention of judicial authorities, and make it more efficient,” Maria Monteleone, the magistrate in charge of Rome's anti-violence pool, told Repubblica. “But the three-day deadline within which prosecutors have to hear testimony from all complainants is unreasonable,” she said, adding that it did not leave enough time to properly examine individual cases.

“If everything becomes urgent, then nothing is urgent any more,” she added.

READ ALSO: 

The law means cases of groping have to be treated with the same urgency as a child abused at home, the newspaper said.

Lella Palladino from the Dire network, which manages 115 anti-violence centres and 55 refuges, said it was positive that victims were being heard so quickly, but that the law should have included obligatory training for prosecutors.

“Many women are still being killed because police — but also prosecutors and judges that hear the cases — downplay the risks,” she said. “Or worse still, they find alibis for the aggressors, such as madness and jealousy.”  

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ROME

Tourist fined €450 for swim in Rome’s Trevi Fountain

With the return of tourism and scorching temperatures, Rome’s fountains are once again attracting visitors hoping to cool off with a midnight swim.

Tourist fined €450 for swim in Rome's Trevi Fountain

In the latest incident, a 26-year-old Spanish man was fined 450 euros after taking a dip in the Trevi Fountain in the early hours of Sunday morning.

Rome’s city police apprehended and fined the man after he was spotted swimming in the 18th-century monument at around 5am, according to local media reports.

READ ALSO: How to keep cool like an Ancient Roman in Italy’s summer heat

Every summer, hapless foreign visitors face fines of hundreds of euros after falling foul of Rome’s strict ban on taking a dip in public fountains – with the city mayor warning tourists that the centuries-old Baroque monuments are “not swimming pools”.

In April, two Dutch tourists also faced fines totalling over €1,000 after their own ill-advised splash in the Trevi Fountain.

The Roman landmark is one of the city’s main magnets for badly-behaved visitors, but tourists have also been fined after cooling off in the Santa Maria fountain in Trastevere, believed to be the city’s oldest. 

Since 2018, anyone caught misbehaving at Rome’s monuments can also face a temporary ‘Daspo’ ban from the area – similar to an ASBO (anti-social behaviour order) in the UK – which allows city police to restrict the movement of people they deem a threat to public order.

READ ALSO: From selfie brawls to midnight swims: Tourists behaving badly at the Trevi Fountain

But a plan to erect a one-metre-high glass and steel barrier around the Trevi fountain to protect it from unruly visitors now appears to have been abandoned after arts and heritage experts called the idea “foolish”.

Fines for swimming in the fountains have been in place since 2015, but this hasn’t stopped determined visitors from recreating scenes from La Dolce Vita and even some locals from taking a dip – – with or without their clothes.

Swimming in the wrong place is just one of the offences regularly committed by visitors, with graffiti and vandalism a common problem at many of Italy’s famous monuments.

READ ALSO: 15 strange ways to get into trouble on holiday in Italy

In Rome alone, this year tourists have made headlines for everything from breaking into the Colosseum to enjoy a drink with a view to driving a car down the Spanish Steps.

Other Italian tourism hotspots, including Florence and Venice, also have varying local rules in place aimed at curbing rowdy behaviour.

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