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Italy's supreme court rules 'no balls' offense is criminal

Insult 'offends male virtues'

06 August, 16:26
Italy's supreme court rules 'no balls' offense is criminal

(ANSA) - Rome, August 1 - Beware what insults you throw your adversary's way during an argument in Italy, for it could land you with a lawsuit and hefty fines.

Italy's supreme court (Court of Cassation) ruled on Wednesday that telling a rival that he "has no balls" during a heated argument is a criminal offence and can lead to fines.

According to judges, a person who pronounces this insult commits a crime not so much because the offending words question one's virility but because the phrase puts in doubt the accused person's determination and consistency, "virtues which - right or wrong - continue to be seen as characteristic of the male gender".

The ruling put the final word to a case filed in Taranto, southern Italy, during which a family argument led one cousin to hurl the emasculating insult at another.

The first court to hear the case ruled in January 2011 that the suit was baseless. However, the prosecuting lawyer appealed to Italy's Supreme Court, which on Wednesday sided with the plaintiff. Now a civil judge will have to decide if damages must be paid by one family member to the other.