Crime-ridden Italians protest at Lucera court closure
Published: 21st Aug 2012 15:50:43
Plans to close the local palace of justice in a crime-ridden part of southern Italy have led to angry protests by residents, reports say.
Twenty mayors in Lucera, Foggia, have threatened to resign their posts if the plans go ahead.
It comes as nationwide statistics show an increase in crime since police spending was cut as part of a harsh austerity programme.
There was a big increase in burglaries, bag-snatching and shop theft.
Overall, the crimes reported to police rose by 5%.
Under the spending cuts introduced by Italy's government, some 37 courts are due to close, including that at Lucera in Foggia province.
But the court sits in one of the most crime-ridden parts of southern Italy, reports the BBC's David Willey in Rome - and local residents have protested angrily.
The local bishop wrote a letter of protest to the president of Italy pleading: "Don't abandon us to the Mafia!" and ordered the muffled bells of his ancient cathedral to toll as at a funeral.
The public prosecutor, who has received death threats from Mafia bosses, angrily published his last will and testament.
At least 20 local mayors have handed in their tricolour mayoral sashes to show that they are ready to resign if the closure goes ahead.
The sashes were given in to Foggia's prefect, along with thousands of electoral cards returned by citizens in protest.
They hope the protest will reach the minister of home affairs who could take the Tribunale di Lucera off the list of those earmarked for closure.
The protests come amid an increase in crime around the country as police spending is cut.
The biggest petty crime increase occurred in the Adriatic seaside resort of Rimini, where bag-snatching increased more than 100%.
House burglaries went up by a fifth, reaching a nationwide total of more than 200,000 last year.
Shop thefts increased faster than bank robberies, and the total number of crimes reported to police rose by more than 5%.
Police unions blame spending cuts totalling over $3.5bn (£2.2bn) on police services imposed by successive governments, our correspondent says.
Harvard CitationBBC News, 2012. Crime-ridden Italians protest at Lucera court closure. [Online] (Updated 21 Aug 2012)
Available at: http://www.ukwirednews.com/news.php/1447418-Crime-ridden-Italians-protest-at-Lucera-court-closure [Accessed 22nd May 2013]
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