Italy adopts law on widened definition of self-defense

By Agence France-Presse

The Italian Senate on Thursday signed into law a widened definition of legitimate self-defense, in line with a manifesto promise of far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini.

"It's a very beautiful day -- finally, Italians' sacrosanct right to legitimate self-defense has been confirmed," said Salvini, who also serves as first deputy prime minister.

"From today, miscreants will know it will be more difficult to be a burglar in Italy -- it will become a still more dangerous undertaking," Salvini said after the Senate passed the bill by 201 votes to 38.

The legislation, passed on its third reading, will limit legal action against persons who fire on an intruder.

Previously, the law had required proof that an intruder posed an immediate physical threat to the householder.

The new law renders defense legitimate in a person's home against a perceived threat of violence from someone trespassing on their property.

The law also offers free legal aid and defense counsel costs for those who kill or injure an intruder then claim legitimate self-defense.

The law also toughens sentences for theft, burglary and shoplifting, while making the release from custody in such cases conditional on payment of damages.

Salvini's far-right League party, in a coalition government formed last year with the anti-establishment Five Star Movement, campaigned on behalf of individuals and traders facing justice for killing unarmed burglars.

Magistrates, however, have warned the new law could have dangerous effects, "reducing magistrates' scope for interpretation" of such cases.

"It is important to remember that... even with this new law, penal proceedings will be opened and investigations will be undertaken," Francesco Minisci, president of Italy's National Association of Magistrates (ANM), said in a statement.