Acquitted because he acted out of a “delusion of jealousy”. That is the reason that led this past week to a court of Brescia (northern Italy) to exonerate Antonio Gozzini, a 70-year-old man who murdered his wife in 2019, Cristina Maioli, a 63-year-old teacher who was first hit on the head with a rolling pin while she was sleeping, and then she was slit her throat. Then he stayed for hours next to the corpse.
The sentence has once again brought to light the difficulties for a part of Italian society to deal with the issue of domestic violence, an issue that until recently had disappeared from the mainstream media. A similar situation was experienced last year when the Bologna court of appeal reduced the sentence of a man who had strangled his partner in prison from 30 to 16 years, arguing that at the time of the crime he was suffering an “emotional storm”. The Prosecutor’s Office appealed to the Supreme Court, which ordered a repeat of the process. The appeal upheld the 30-year sentence.
«These types of sentences are an insult. They show that within the judicial system there are still some people who are not prepared to deal with the issue of violence against women ”, Explain to this diary Maria Gabriella Carnieri Moscatelli, president of Telephone Rosa, a leading entity in social awareness of femicide. Despite these controversial cases, he welcomes the creation of prosecutors in large cities specializing in domestic violence and with people “very capable and sensitive to this problem.”
Monica Cirinna, senator of the Democratic Party and ‘mother’ of the Italian law on civil unions between people of the same sex, considers that the sentence of the Brescia court supposes “A return to the past” that leaves a “terrible” message to public opinion. “This femicide has not been recognized as such and a jealous husband can murder his wife without being sentenced to life imprisonment,” laments the senator.
Nine homicides a month
In the First 10 months of the year they have been counted in Italy 85 family femicides, that is, almost nine homicides of this type per month, according to the latest Eures report. Although the figure is similar to last year, during the lockdown by the coronavirus last spring, cases of domestic violence skyrocketed. “Due to the restrictions we have unintentionally created a deep malaise,” acknowledged Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte last month, warning that femicides “tripled” during the quarantine. In those harsh weeks, a woman was murdered by her partner every other day.
For Carnieri Moscatelli, the increase in cases during confinement was part of a larger problem: the increase in family violence due to the pandemic. “There have also been more violent episodes with the children and with each other. Being indoors for so long has led to very difficult situations. The school gives the boys rules and discipline. Today people are very irritated and more prone to fights, “he says.
A case that reflects this situation well is that of a 44-year-old Ukrainian woman whose 50-year-old Italian partner broke her leg with a hammer during confinement. “He told me that he would not kill me with a single blow, but by beating me little by little,” denounced the woman, who now lives in a foster home.