NEWS » Italy to legalise killing of burglars who break in at night?

Italy to legalise killing of burglars who break in at night?

Be careful if you sneak into your house late at the night, maybe to avoid waking up the family, you might be killed!

Italy is in the process of legalising killing burglars who break in at night. The new law could allow citizens to legally kill unarmed burglars who break into their property at night, as part of legitimate defence. Therefore, mind your family relations because someone could take the chance of getting rid of you pretending they thought you were a burglar. Joking apart, concern was raised towards possible pre-meditated murders within families, covered as legitimate defence.

The Parliament has already approved what is an expansion of the existing laws protecting homeowners fearing for their lives. The Chamber of Deputies voted in favour of the legislation by 225 votes in favour and 166 against, but it must be approved by the upper house before coming into effect. Polemics arose for the distinction between night and day intruders which for many doesn’t make sense.

The bill has been going through parliament for two years but became the focus of attention when Mario Cattaneo, a restaurant owner in Lodi, in the Lombardy region, killed a burglar last March. The businessman, who shot the intruder in the back around 100m outside his property, was investigated for manslaughter. Lodi’s Mayor and most of the population railed in support of Mario Cattaneo’s legitimate defence.

According to current legislation, people must have reasonable grounds to fear for their life to avoid a murder charge, but amendments would extend protections to include any burglary at night, or a robbery attempt involving threats or violence. Each case will be considered individually, but there might be ambiguities that could be exploited.

In the event that the non-punishment for legitimate defence is declared, all court costs and remuneration will be taken over by the State. This would amount to an estimated burden of 295,200 euros on the public purse from 2017 onwards.

The new self-deface law is in line with a similar French law allowing self-defence in case of night robberies carried out through aggression and deceitful behaviour. 

Things are not so different in the UK. “Metro” reported last year that Householders have the right to take violent action against burglars raiding their homes. The High Court ruled that “Disproportionate force” against intruders in homes is acceptable as long as they reasonably believe such a high level of force is necessary. Force is not necessarily unreasonable and unlawful only because it is disproportionate – unless it is grossly disproportionate.

Giulia Lombardo

»Back to: NEWS