Mafia still think they 'own' women

(ANSA) - Rome, January 9 - Many Italian mobsters still think they own their women and believe they should get away with murder if they are jilted, Italy's highest court said Friday.

Rejecting a plea of 'crime of passion', the Cassation Court sentenced a Camorra boss to life for the 2000 murder of a factory worker the boss's girlfriend fell in love with.

The court, whose rulings set precedents, said the toughest penalties should be applied in cases where mobsters ''kill merely to punish someone they think belongs to them, not accepting a woman's right to live her own life''.

The Mafia has been known to apply an outdated code of honour that extends to murdering people, especially women, who have 'brought shame' on their families.

So-called honour killings are also part of Italy's legal history, where the idea was an admitted defense until 1981.

Prior to its reversal, an article existed in the Italian Criminal Code that provided a reduced penalty of imprisonment of only three to seven years for a man who killed his wife, sister or daughter to vindicate his or his family's honour.

Such crimes were once a fairly widely accepted feature of highly traditional communities in southern Italy - and even sparked an Oscar-winning 1961 comedy called Divorce, Italian Style, starring Marcello Mastroianni.

The Mafia, clinging to the past, has much more recently recently killed women who 'strayed' sexually or had children without being married.

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