Rome 'umbrella killer' sentenced

Other News Materials 18 December 2007 00:07 (UTC +04:00)

A Romanian woman has been sentenced to 16 years in prison for killing a woman by stabbing her in the eye with an umbrella tip at Rome's main station.

Doina Matei, 21, was caught on CCTV leaving the station after the attack.

It was one of a series of recent crimes, apparently committed by Romanians, that triggered anger in Italy and soured bilateral ties.

The outcry prompted Rome to pass a law allowing the expulsion of foreigners deemed a threat to the public.

Vanessa Russo, 23, died from wounds suffered in the stabbing at Termini station on 26 April.

Police used surveillance camera footage to track down Ms Russo's attacker at a house in the town of Tolentino, about 250km (160 miles) east of Rome.

There has been an outcry in Italy over a series of crimes attributed to immigrants, mostly Romanian.

In one incident on 30 October, a 47-year-old woman was mugged and left lying in a ditch in Rome. Lapsing into a coma, Giovanna Reggiani died a few days later.

Nicolae Mailat, a 25-year-old Romanian, was found in possession of her stolen handbag and arrested.

Responding to the public anger over such cases, the government issued a decree in November giving local authorities the power to expel European Union citizens who posed a threat to public security.

An attempt to get Senate approval for the decree passed by only two votes last week, despite the decision of Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi to turn the issue into one of confidence, in order to unite his divided coalition.

Some left-wing members of his governing coalition were unwilling to support the measure owing to concerns that the new rules were too harsh, correspondents say. ( BBC )