The apex court of Italy has ruled that stealing small amounts of food to stave off hunger in not crime.
Judges of the Italian court have ruled after a theft conviction against Roman Ostriakov who stole cheese and sausages worth around €4.07 from a supermarket, BBC reports
The court of cassation decided that Mr Ostriakov, a homeless man of Ukrainian background, had taken the food "in the face of the immediate and essential need for nourishment".
Therefore it was not a crime, the court said.
A fellow customer informed the store's security in 2011, when Mr Ostriakov attempted to leave a Genoa supermarket with two pieces of cheese and a packet of sausages in his pocket but paid only for breadsticks.
In 2015, Mr Ostriakov was convicted of theft and sentenced to six months in jail and a €100 fine.
Italy's Supreme Court of Cassation, which reviews only the application of the law and not the facts of the case, on Monday made a final and definitive ruling overturning the conviction entirely.
Stealing small quantities of food to satisfy a vital need for food did not constitute a crime, the court stated.
The court ruling said, “The condition of the defendant and the circumstances in which the seizure of merchandise took place prove that he took possession of that small amount of food in the face of an immediate and essential need for nourishment, acting therefore in a state of necessity."
Italian media praised the ruling as historic, and pertinent.