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Napolitano issues ultimatum over prison amnesty

Human Rights court has ordered Rome to end overcrowding

04 December, 12:25
Napolitano issues ultimatum over prison amnesty (ANSA) - Rome, December 4 - President Giorgio Napolitano gave parliament an ultimatum on Wednesday, saying it had to either pass an "amnesty measure" to combat chronic overcrowding in Italian prisons or "clearly say it is not necessary" despite a ruling against Rome by the European Court of Human Rights.

In October the head of State sent a message to parliament calling for action on chronic prison overcrowding.

But progress on the issue had been complicated by talk that ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi could benefit from an amnesty after a tax-fraud conviction was upheld by the supreme court, making it definitive.

In May, the European Court of Human Rights ordered Italy to make dramatic improvements to its prison system to stop overcrowding and stop violations against prison rights.

It gave Italy a deadline of May 20, 2014, to solve the problem after rejecting Italy's appeal against a sentence condemning Rome for the state of Italian jails.

The country's prison conditions have long been the source of criticism from human rights' groups, with high suicide rates among inmates a particular area of concern.