Sean\’s Sicily

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Only the honest have anything to worry about in Italy

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It’s an opinion held my lots and lots of Italians.  Fairly universal, in fact.  Which is fairly depressing.  I’ve been meaning to write a post about it for a while but every time I start I get disheartened and cancel it.

This difficulty doing the right thing is something that I’ve come up against time and time again – doing the “right thing” is difficult, is going to get you screwed, and is liable to cost a lot of money.

Google are going on trial for letting some video get published (despite EU rules stating that the provider isn’t responsable if some idiot loads offensive materials onto it’s website).  Google immediately pulled the video after finding out about it, co-operated fully with the investigation, and the result?

Some prosecutor in Milan wants to put 4 executives on trial.

My friend “E” runs a small IT business, and is very good at it.  She declares all her income and refuses to engage in dodgy behaviour of any kind.  As a result – she’s lost contracts, she’s been left waiting for more than a year for an important client to settle outstanding accounts, and the government smack a €5,000 annual levy on her because it assumes she’s dodging tax.  If she took to the black market, and didn’t declare anything, she’d be laughing.  But because she set up a company and declares revenue and all that, €5k per year.

As an ordinary worker she’s been left unpaid by dodgy bankcruptcies and dodgy businesses.  Along with fellow co-workers, she had to take one businessman to court to get several months’ worth of salaries after all the money dissapeared.  The guy was suspected of laundering money for the mafia.  And that guy is now a politician in Palermo – for a Forza Italia-allied party, of course!

When Sonia came with me to Ireland, she couldn’t work because she had a leave-of-absence from Palermo, and under Italian law you can’t have two jobs at the same time.  Unlike practically every other Italian we met, who were working illegally (under Italian law).  But as Sonia told me, only honest people have anything to worry about under the Italian system.

It works like this.  Assume that you’re suspected of some fairly serious infraction.

If you’re honest, you want the process to be completed as soon as possible.  Under Italian law, you can be held without charge for up to 1 year.  That’s right, 365 days in jail just waiting to find out if you’re actually going to be charged or not.

If you’re honest, you probably don’t have the money to hire a fancy lawyer to argue your case.  So you probably won’t get home arrest, unlike Friedrich Vernarelli.

If you’re honest, you won’t have any politicians riding shotgun.  You won’t even be able to get the charges dropped when they become farcical.

After all, if one third of the Italian parliament are under criminal investigation, why make life difficult for criminals!?

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Written by seancasaidhe

November 6, 2008 at 6:13 pm

Posted in Sicily

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