Italy adds conditions to release of mafia prisoners after outcry

Penitentiary police officers look as inmates stage a protest against new rules to cope with coronavirus emergency, on the roof of the San Vittore prison in Milan, Italy on March 9, 2020. (AP)

The Italian government has tightened up conditions for the release of mafia mobsters from jail due to coronavirus fears after an outcry over the scheme meant to protect them against infection.

A decree adopted overnight Sunday now requires that any release be reviewed every two weeks to ensure that it was fully justified and remains so.

Some 376 mafiosi and drug dealers have been moved from jails to house arrest since March and judges were examining release requests from 456 others, the Repubblica daily reported on Thursday.

Those freed include notorious Cosa Nostra boss Francesco Bonura, 78, and Franco Cataldo, 85, who was part of a gang which murdered the teenage son of a turncoat in 1996 and dissolved his body in acid.

Relatives of inmates clash with police outside of Rebibbia Prison during a prisoners' revolt, after family visits were suspended due to fears over coronavirus contagion, in Rome, Italy March 9, 2020. (Reuters)

Relatives of inmates clash with police outside of Rebibbia Prison during a prisoners' revolt, after family visits were suspended due to fears over coronavirus contagion, in Rome, Italy March 9, 2020. (Reuters)

The releases followed widespread riots in prisons in March by inmates fearful of catching the virus, which has killed some 30,000 people in Italy but there was much public unease given the seriousness of some of their crimes, prompting the government to backtrack.

“No one can think they can take advantage of the health emergency caused by the coronavirus to get out of prison,” Justice Minister Alfonso Bonafede was quoted as saying by the AGI news agency on Sunday.

“There is a new rule now which is going to put things straight,” Bonafede said.

A nurse tends to a patient in the intensive care unit of the COVID-19 department of the Policlinic of Tor Vergata in Rome on April 17, 2020. (AP)

A nurse tends to a patient in the intensive care unit of the COVID-19 department of the Policlinic of Tor Vergata in Rome on April 17, 2020. (AP)

Deaths from the COVID-19 epidemic in Italy climbed by 194 on Saturday, against 243 the day before, the Civil Protection Agency said, while the daily tally of new cases fell to 1,083 from 1,327 on Friday.

The total death toll since the outbreak came to light on Feb. 21 now stands at 30,395 the agency said, the third highest in the world after those of the US and Britain.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:58 - GMT 06:58
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