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Right2Rest. Right2Eat. No one is expected to do the impossible.

From a case in Italy, the story of "Les Miserables" may be on its way to being rewritten.

The New York Times tells us today that a Ukraine man, Roman Ostriakov, was caught trying to take cheese and sausage from a supermarket in Genoa, Italy. The value of the food was approximately $4.70 in US Dollars.

At trial, Mr. Ostriakov was sentenced to six months in jail and a fine of 100 Euros, which in American dollars is about $115.48

The case was appealed and the higher court determined that "the condition of the defendant and the circumstances in which the merchandise theft took place prove that [Mr. Ostriakov] took possession of the small amount of food in the face of the immediate and essential need for nourishment, acting therefore in a state of need." Thus, concluded the court, "the theft does not constitute a crime."

A document providing a full statement of the court's reasoning has not been put forward as yet, but an Italian legal doctrine was cited. The doctrine, in Latin, reads "Ad impossibilia nemo tenetur." An English translation is "No one is expected to do the impossible."

The decision is getting a great deal of attention in Italy.

A newpaper editor in Turin, Massimo Gramellini, complained, bitterly, that "In America [the court decision] would be blasphemy. And here as well, some conformists will talk about a legitimization of proletarian expropriation."

A Mr. Colombo, a former member of the Supreme Court of Cassation, said he believed that the decision in the Ostriakov case was correct: "Under the Italian Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, everyone  has a legal right to dignity.

"If you can't eat because you have absolutely no money, and cannot sustain yourself without taking something you don't own, in this case, the Italian criminal law justifies this theft."

Now how is it, a homeless Sacramentan might wonder, that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that Mr. Colombo mentions isn't enforced in Sacramento? Everyone has a legal right to dignity? In Sacramento!? Bullshit.


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