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Rome

Mafioso who doesn't talk can't be punished - court

Explains recent ruling on permits for mafia lifers

Mafioso who doesn't talk can't be punished - court

Rome, December 4 - A mafioso who doesn't collaborate with justice cannot be punished by denying him benefits, furloughs and sentence reductions, the Constitutional Court said Wednesday in explaining a recent ruling opening up to permits for mafia lifers who don't collaborate with justice, like those enjoyed by other prisoners serving life. A mafia inmate can be "rewarded" if he collaborates with justice but cannot be "further" punished, denying him benefits permitted to all, if he does not, the top court said. In this case, it said, the presumption of dangerousness remains but "not in an absolute way" because it "may be superseded if the detention review magistrate has gathered evidence ruling out that the detainee still has connections with the criminal association". On October 23 the Constitutional Court opened up to permits for mafia lifers who don't collaborate with justice, like those enjoyed by other prisoners serving life. A failure to turn state's evidence should not disallow furloughs and bonus permits provided that a link to organised crime is ruled out, the court ruled. Anti-migrant Euroskeptic League party leader Matteo Salvini reacted by saying the sentence was "devastating" and "we will try to demolish it with all legally possible means". He called the ruling "disgusting and diseducational". Centre-left Democratic Party (PD) leader Nicola Zingaretti said "it's a bit of a bizarre sentence, I don't feel in line with what it laid down". Justice Minister Alfonso Bonafede said his offices were "already at work" to comply with the sentence. Longtime anti-mafia prosecutor Sebastiano Ardita said the sentence spelled a risk that Cosa Nostra might reorganise, "if the exception becomes the rule". He called on parliament to intervene to make sure the mafia doesn't pressure detention magistrates. Earlier in October the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled that Italy must reform its law on life imprisonment which states that inmates cannot have time off unless they collaborate with justice. On October 8, the court rejected an appeal from Rome for a new ruling after an unfavourable judgment issued on June 13. In that ruling, the court urged Italy to revise its laws mandating life sentences for certain very serious crimes, and ruling out sentence reductions unless inmates turned informant. Life terms subject the prisoner to inhuman and degrading treatment, violating their dignity, the ECHR said. The court ruling regarded Marcello Viola, found guilty of mafia association, multiple murder and robbery, who has been in jail since the start of the 1990s. The ECHR sentence did not mean that Viola should be released. But Italy was ordered to pay him 6,000 euros in court costs. Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said his ruling anti-establishment 5-Star Movement (M5S) "does not share in any way the court's decision". "Today the Strasbourg Court says that life imprisonment 'violates human rights' and that we should reform it. "Are we joking? If you go hand in hand with the mafia, if you destroy the lives of whole families and innocent people, you do prison according to certain rules. "No jail time off, no conditional liberty. You pay, full stop. "Here we are still grieving for our heroes, our victims, and now we're supposed to think about safeguarding the rights of their killers?" Justice Minister Alfonso Bonafede, also of the M5S, said "we absolutely do not agree with the court's ruling".

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