Court puts value of stalking at 1500 euros

ROME - A trial against an accused stalker was dismissed after the defendant offered to pay the victim 1,500 euros, judicial sources said. The victim refused the money in favour of criminal proceedings. Despite this, it was judged at Italy's Supreme Court of Cassation closed the case due a new law stating that “restorative conduct” had been enacted. 

 In a bizarre loop-hole resulting in a law that came into force in August of last year, "compensation for damages may also be recognized following a real offer made by the defendant and not accepted by the injured person, where the court acknowledges the congruence of the sum offered." 

 Italy has no specific law against stalking, most criminal proceedings operate under the bracket of harassment. The defendant was accused of having frequently following the victim in his car for a 2 month period starting in Dec. 2016. The judge ruled that the offer of money was "congruent to the extent of the facts”, essentially meaning that the willingness to pay money meant that justice has been restored. 

 Gabriella Carnieri Moscatelli, president of Telefon Rosa, stated that “We had in any case urged Minister Orlando to strike stalking off the list of crimes that may be dismissed with the payment of money” in reaction to the court’s ruling. She continued; “the victim does not have a say in the judge's decision to accept or not the figure proposed by the stalker … we wanted them to listen to us so that we could tell what it means to endure the torture of stalking and so that we can explain how devastating it is for the victims to know that it can end with a plethora of money. We have not been listened to.”

 Stalking is a serious problem in Italy. A 2007 study by the National Institute of Statistics on the physical, sexual, and psychological mistreatment of women from inside and outside the family showed that, of 2500 women from 18 to 70, nearly 1 in 5 had been stalked by an ex-partner. This statistic does not include stalking by individuals that had not been romantically involved with the victims. 

 Codacons made the point that, not only did the court choosing whether on not to accept the payment instead of proceeding with the criminal prosecution on behalf of the victim, the decision effectively put a monetary cost on the criminal offence. "This sentence is pericola because it is likely to stimulate stalking episodes by launching a wrong message, one that is not committing a crime if, after molesting a person, he offers the money as compensation."