Italian court rules homeless man's theft of sausages and cheese was 'not a crime'

The court decided that the man faced an "immediate and essential need for nourishment"

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File photo. Image: Laura Lean / PA Archive/Press Association Images

Italy's highest court of appeal has ruled that a homeless man's theft of sausages and cheese was not a crime.

Roman Ostriakov was convicted last year of stealing the food - worth around €4 - from a supermarket in Genoa in 2011.

He was sentenced to a €100 fine and six months in prison, BBC reports.

However, Italy's court of cassation has now overturned the conviction.

The court decided that Mr Ostriakov took the food "in the face of the immediate and essential need for nourishment", and therefore it did not constitute a crime.

Some commentators compared the case to the plight of Jean Valjean in Les Misérables.

A response in the La Stampa newspaper says the ruling "reminds everyone that in a civilised country" nobody should be allowed to starve.

However, The Guardian reports that the case also led to criticism of Italy's court system, with some arguing that a small theft being subject to a three-part trial highlighted the inefficiency of the system.