Crime and Court news / Foreign relations

The juridical issues raised by the Italian counter-Mafia legislation

A harsh legislation against organized crime is in force in Italy, which is hardly surprising since Mafia assassinated senators, judges, journalist and even a Military Police general.

However, law is complicated. Italian law is complicated per se, and moreover it has to interact with international and European law.

On the internal level, some scholars criticize the offence of “external complicity with organized crime”, extensively used by the District Attorney’s Offices and the Courts to hit the white collars helping organized crime with political patronage, money laundering, business, etc. These figures are essential to modern organized crime, but they are not members of the criminal organizations themselves. Their punishment can seem pretty obvious, but it is administered by the Courts using an odd combination of articles of the Italian Criminal Code.

On the European and international level, it is sometimes doubted that the maximum security jail system reserved for organized crime leaders pursuant to article 41-bis of the Jail Code is in compliance with human rights standards. People subject to the 41-bis regime are held in tiny cells and are constantly monitored. They are allowed very few hours of recreation and visits. The Authorities contend that the regime is necessary to avoid that organized crime bosses send orders from their cell using codes and keywords.

Finally, the Italian offence of “organized crime association” is not contemplated by foreign criminal laws, which can make extradition requests by Italy difficult to process, an issue which could emerge after the arrest of senator Marcello Dell’Utri by the Lebanese Authorities.

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