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Senate gives final approval to legitimate-defence law

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Senate gives final approval to legitimate-defence law
© ANSA

(ANSA) - Rome, March 28 - The Senate on Thursday gave final
approval to the government's law expanding the right to
legitimate self defence.
It was approved by the Upper House on its third reading with
201 votes in favour, 38 against and six abstentions.
The lawmakers from the parties supporting Premier Giuseppe
Conte's government, the League and the 5-Star Movement (M5S),
applauded as the legislation got the definitive green light.
The bill expanding the right to self-defence from intruders,
fashioned by Interior Minister and League leader Matteo Salvini,
introduces norms similar to US 'stand your ground' laws.
"This is a great day for Italians," said Salvini, who
recently courted controversy by visiting in jail a businessman
who made a would-be thief kneel and shot and injured him in the
chest.
"After years of chatter and polemics we have enshrined the
sacrosanct right of legitimate self defence for those who are
attacked in their homes, in their bars, and in their
restaurants," he said.
"The Wild West is not being legitimised, but we are on the
side of decent and respectable citizens".
Salvini has long campaigned for a law allowing self-defence
in all cases and has repeatedly sided with business people and
other citizens who have been prosecuted for excessive self
defence under the previous law.
But the new law may face legal hurdles, according to
magistrates union ANM.
"There are numerous doubts that the law may be
unconstitutional in many aspects," ANM President Francesco
Minisci told reporters.
He also said the change in legislation was not needed, in his
view.
"The new law...will not safeguard citizens any more than they
were safeguarded up till today; on the contrary is introduces
concepts that have little to do with law, it foresees dangerous
automatism and restricts the range of evaluation by magistrates,
as well as bringing with it great difficulties in
interpretation," he said.
Among the new factors to be weighed in self-defence cases
there is the concept of "serious emotional disturbance" in the
face of intruders, which would legitimise even deadly self
defence.
Italy's association of penal lawyers also came out against
the new law, calling it "useless and dangerous".
They said it "intervenes on a virtual, non-existent
emergency, seeing that the cases of (excessive) legitimate self
defence at home are two a year, and they end up in acquittals".
It is dangerous, the criminal lawyers said, because "it
spreads the conviction in people that they can act in conditions
of impunity at home. And that's not so".
Mario Cattaneo, a northern Italian restaurant owner who shot
dead a thief and has been indicted for excessive self-defence,
said "I'm thrilled, and I hope this law can put an end to my
agony".

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