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Italy approves bigger fines for ‘eco vandals’ targeting artworks

In World
January 18, 2024

ROME – Italy’s parliament on Thursday gave final approval to a law introducing tougher penalties on those who damage monuments and cultural sites, following a series of climate protests.

In recent months, environmental activists in Italy have thrown paint or otherwise defaced monuments, buildings and artworks, including the Trevi Fountain in Rome, Palazzo Vecchio in Florence and La Scala Opera house in Milan.

The bill, passed by the lower house of parliament with a 138-92 vote, envisages fines of up to 40,000 euros ($43,548) for those who deface monuments, increasing to up to 60,000 euros if cultural heritage is destroyed.

Current fines are in the range of 1,500-15,000 euros.

The law also stipulates that the culture ministry can use the proceeds from fines to clean up and repair damaged monuments.

“Today is a beautiful day for Italian culture, and in particular for the artistic and architectural heritage of the nation,” Culture Minister Gennaro Sangiuliano, the chief backer of the reform, said in a statement.

The legislation dubbed the ‘eco vandals’ law is the latest example of Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni right-wing government’s tough approach on law and order, adding to measures against juvenile offenders, irregular migrants and rave party organisers.

Climate activists, who call on governments to stop the use of fossil fuels and tackle global warming, have staged similar protests across Europe, targeting the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin along with paintings in London and Vienna. REUTERS

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