Stealing food not a crime if you are poor and hungry, rules court in Italy

The Supreme Court in Italy on Monday overturned the conviction of a homeless man from Ukraine, who was caught stealing food from a store in Genoa in 2013 and ruled that "stealing small amounts of food out of necessity is not a crime".

According to The Telegraph report, the unusual judgment was made in the case of a homeless man, Roman Ostriakov, who was caught trying to steal two pieces of cheese and a pack of frankfurter sausages worth four euros (£3.15) from a supermarket in Genoa, in Italy's northwest, in 2011.

The Rome-based Cassation (appellate) Court on Monday ruled that man was driven by necessity to take a small quantity of food, Fox News reported.

Representational image. Getty Images

Representational image. Getty Images

The court said that the circumstances in which the merchandise theft took place prove that he took possession of that small amount of food in the face of the immediate and essential need for nourishment, "acting therefore in a state of need", reported The New York Times.

Therefore, the theft “does not constitute a crime,” the appellate court wrote in its decision.

According to a CNN International report, the 36-year-old Ukrainian national, had the goods hidden under his jacket as he paid for bread sticks. He was reported to shopkeepers by another customer, and was later arrested by police.

In 2013, Ostriakov was convicted of theft and sentenced to six months jail and a €100 fine ($115). The ruling was appealed against, but upheld in 2015.

Ostriakov, was sentenced to six months in jail and a fine of €100 ($115) in 2015.

The value of the food he attempted to steal was less than $5, reported Time Magazine.

The ruling found its way in an op-ed in La Stampa, an Italian newspaper, which said that for the judges, the “right to survival prevails over property”.

An opinion piece in Corriere Della Sera, reported BBC, said statistics suggest 615 people are added to the ranks of the poor in Italy every day, and it was "unthinkable that the law should not take note of reality".


Published Date: May 05, 2016 01:54 pm | Updated Date: May 05, 2016 01:54 pm


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