A homeless man has been acquitted of stealing cheese and sausages, by the highest court in Italy, which held that the theft of small amounts of food by the hungry & poor is not a crime.
The hungry & poor Ukrainian, Roman Ostriakov was caught in 2011 pocketing US$4.72 worth of food in a supermarket in Genoa, after a customer spotted him and reported him to a member of staff, Italian media reported on Tuesday.
Ostriakov was then sentenced to six months in prison and ordered to pay a US$100 fine.
However, the verdict was appealed on grounds that Ostriakov had been stopped before he had actually left the supermarket, and at a second appeal, Italy’s court of cassation acquitted him.
Italy’s Supreme Court of Cassation, which reviews only the application of the law and not the facts of the case, on Monday made a final and definitive ruling overturning the conviction entirely.
It was clear the defendant “could not live without feeding himself, so acted out of necessity,” the court said.
The Corriere della Sera daily was quick to point out the irony of a legal system in Italy, which saw the theft of goods worth less than five euros go through three costly rounds of justice — first instance, appeal and cassation — before being thrown out.