The title of this post can be translated as ‘All are equal in the eyes of the law’ and it is the motto you will see in displayed in every Italian law court. The problem is that this is just not true.
The reason for this entry is an item I heard on the news tonight which caused my blood to effervesce a wee bit. The item concerned an Italian law which makes it an offence to insult a minister of religion, only, this particular law differentiated between Roman Catholic ministers and those of other religions.
Offend a Roman Catholic minister and you will get a stiffer sentence than if you go and insult a minister of any other religion. Fortunately, certain judges have decided that this differentiation is unconstitutional. I think you will understand why from the motto I mentioned at the start of this post.
Of course, as most of us mere mortals know, the law is rarely as fair as it is made out to be.
There is a long running case here concerning a mother who, it would seem, killed her young son. The murder weapon has never been found, but all the evidence uncovered would seem to point towards the mother’s guilt. Despite this though, she has not yet ended up in court and most likely never will. The reason why this criminal act has never been punished seems to be that this person is a little bit more equal than the rest of us. Why would this be the case? Interesting you should ask. The reason for this excess of equality appears to be that the woman is rather well connected. In fact she seems to be connected to a person who could well end up being the next prime minister of Italy. (Eventually the mother concerned did end up in prison, and is there now.)
Another case of the slight abuse of equality relates to the time limits which exist under Italian law – to the extent that if you are not found guilty within a certain period, you can invoke a statute of limitations, and bring the accusations and other nastiness to a convenient end. To achieve this, all you need is a competent legal team and buckets full of cash. Easy. But only if your are the proud possessor of superior equality, and rich too.
Update December 2009: Silvio Berlusconi possesses superior equality
Someone called Silvio Berlusconi possesses superior equality – or at least he thinks he does. His legal team, which includes politicians who also happen to be his lawyers, seems to be great at ensuring court cases run on and on until they reach their ‘convict by’ dates.
Equality equals cash in bank.
Others who are unable to benefit from possessing higher than normal levels of equality will most probably find themselves sampling an all together different type of Italian cuisine, served by smiling cooks in a high-security type of restaurant. At least they will not have to worry about leaving tips.
As a general rule, not just here in Italy, your equality in the eyes of the law is pretty closely related to the size of your bank account and the capabilities of your lawyer/lawyers.
How equal are you, dear reader?
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