Italy’s highest appeal court has ruled that it is acceptable to discriminate against Romait is acceptable to discriminate against Roma [Gypsies] on the grounds that they are thieves:
The judgment, made public yesterday, comes amid a nationwide clampdown on the Roma community by Silvio Berlusconi’s government. Last week his interior minister, Roberto Maroni, announced plans to fingerprint all of Italy’s Roma, including children.
The ruling by the court of cassation, which appears to provide judicial backing for the government’s policies, was handed down in March, but reported only yesterday. The judges overthrew the conviction of six defendants who signed a leaflet demanding the expulsion of Verona’s Gypsies in 2001.
Among those convicted of racially discriminatory propaganda was Flavio Tosi, an official of the anti-immigrant Northern League, who has since become Verona’s mayor. He was quoted by a witness at his trial as having said afterwards: “The Gypsies must be ordered out because, wherever they arrive, there are robberies.”
The court of cassation decided this did not show Tosi was a racist, but that he had “a deep aversion [to Roma] that was not determined by the Gypsy nature of the people discriminated against, but by the fact that all the Gypsies were thieves”. His dislike of them was “not therefore based on a notion of superiority or racial hatred, but on racial prejudice”. The judges scrapped the two-month jail sentences and ordered that the case be reheard.