Armed robberies of Italian banks and building societies have soared after a controversial prisoner amnesty in the country's crowded jails.
Last year's indulto, or pardon, for prisoners with less than three years left to serve caused uproar.
More than 15,000 inmates were released. Within hours, dozens had been arrested and sent back to jail after reoffending. New crime figures have again fuelled the controversy.
The number of bank robberies has risen nationwide, official statistics say, including a staggering 102 per cent increase in Piedmont, in the north.
There have also been marked increases in Veneto (85.1 per cent) and the Marche region (86.9 per cent), where, after a three-day series of bank raids that netted more than £70,000, police arrested six people and found that all had been released under the amnesty.
In Turin, three men arrested for holding up a bank inside a hospital disguised as doctors were also found to be pardoned ex-prisoners.
One ex-convict, released after serving seven years for armed robbery, was arrested as he fled the scene of a raid in Milan and told police: "I needed the money to visit my girlfriend in Cuba."
The most serious case was in the northern city of Udine where plumber Piero Melis, 53, was released early from an eight-month sentence for attacking his wife Carla - only to be rearrested less than six hours later after allegedly trying to strangle her.
Sunday, June 17, 2007
Crime & Punishment (Italian style)
From the Telegraph: