Today in Italy: A roundup of the latest news on Thursday

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Today in Italy: A roundup of the latest news on Thursday
Plans to build a bridge over the Strait of Messina have come under scrutiny following a complaint. Photo by Andreas SOLARO / AFP.

Ministers propose new workplace safety laws, Rome opens investigation into Messina bridge project, nuns accuse priest of sexual abuse, and more news from Italy on Thursday.


Italy's top story on Thursday:

Headlines in Italy on Thursday morning focused on debate over new penalties for using illegal and undeclared labour and other measures to be introduced as part of efforts to stem the spate of workplace accidents and deaths in the country.

Ministers met on Wednesday to discuss proposals including the introduction of the crime of 'workplace homicide', which Justice Minister Carlo Nordio said he was opposed to, newspaper La Repubblica reported.

The push to lower the number of workplace accidents and deaths in Italy came following the collapse at a building site in Florence last Friday, which left five workers dead and three more seriously injured.

The measures were to be debated at the government's next cabinet meeting, according to media reports, following planned meetings in the coming days with trade unions and employers' associations.

Rome prosecutors open investigation into Messina Strait bridge project

The Rome Prosecutors Office on Wednesday announced that it had opened an investigation into the Meloni government's contentious plans to build a suspension bridge that would connect the island of Sicily to the Italian mainland. 

A nine-page complaint filed by leaders of the centre-left Democratic Party, the Greens and Left Alliance, and Italian Left alleges that the company tasked with carrying out the project had repeatedly refused to make key documents public.

The dream of building a bridge over the Strait of Messina dates back decades, with Silvio Berlusconi's government backing the plan in the early 2000s; but critics say it's highly impractical, at risk of mafia infiltration, and a waste of public funds that would be better spent on improving existing infrastructure. 

Italy's Transport and Infrastructure Minister Matteo Salvini, who has made building the bridge his personal mission, said on Wednesday it was "the right of millions of Italians to travel faster, safer and to pollute less," adding that the bridge would "100 percent" be completed.


Nuns accuse renowned priest of sexual abuse

Two former nuns have described their ordeal at the hands of a former Jesuit priest and mosaic artist who they say subjected them to sexual and psychological abuse at a religious community in Slovenia.

Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, Gloria Branciani, who left the community in 1994, said Marko Rupnik would take her to pornographic theatres and make her participate in threesomes to "grow spiritually".

Rupnik is accused of abusing 20 women over 30 years. He was briefly excommunicated in 2020 for absolving someone of having sexual relations with him, but was later restored to his post after formally repenting. He was finally expelled from the Jesuit order last June.

Anne Barrett Doyle, who co-directs the abuse tracking site Bishop Accountability, described Rupnik as a "powerful cleric who was protected at the highest levels of the Church and the Vatican," according to AFP.


Italian police seize 20 million euros from meal voucher company

Italy's financial police force confiscated 20 million euros on Wednesday from Edenred Italia, a French-Italian company that provides food and restaurant vouchers for private and public-sector businesses, after its top management were accused of fraud.

CEOs Luca Albino Palermo and Stanislas De Bourgues, along with two of the company's other legal representatives and the company itself, are under investigation for aggravated fraud, bid-rigging and administrative offences, according to the Corriere della Sera newspaper.

The financial police say they have uncovered evidence of fraud in relation to a public administration tender for meal vouchers that resulted in Edenred being illegitimately awarded the contract, receiving a total of 580 million euros.

The company issued a statement saying it has "complete confidence in the judiciary," adding, "We hope to clarify the matter as soon as possible."


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