Stealing small amounts of food to stave off hunger is not a crime, Italy's highest court of appeal has ruled.
Judges overturned a theft conviction against Roman Ostriakov after he stole cheese and sausages worth €4.07 (£3; $4.50) from a supermarket.
Mr Ostriakov, a homeless man of Ukrainian background, had taken the food "in the face of the immediate and essential need for nourishment", the court of cassation decided. Therefore it was not a crime, it said.
For the judges, the "right to survival prevails over property", said the La Stampa newspaper. In times of economic hardship, the court of cassation's judgement "reminds everyone that in a civilised country not even the worst of men should starve" The Corriere Della Sera says statistics suggest 615 people
are added to the ranks of the poor in Italy every day - it was
"unthinkable that the law should not take note of reality".