Anti-Government protest over Italian suicides over unpaid bills

Italian suicides over unpaid bills sparks anti-government protest

By Tom Kington in Rome
4:45PM BST 07 Apr 2013

Romeo Dionis, 62, an unemployed builder, and his wife Annamaria Sopranzi, 68, a pensioner, hanged themselves on Thursday in Civitanova Marche in the Marche region of Italy after accumulating debts estimated at 30,000 euros.

Soprazani’s brother Giuseppe, who lived with the couple, drowned himself at sea when he learned they had committed suicide.

Dionis lost his job four years ago and had struggled with odd jobs, falling five months behind in his rent and unable to keep up with payments that would have allowed him to collect a pension.

The suicides come as Italy struggles through its longest post war recession, pushing 79,000 Italians to emigrate last year, a 30 per cent year on year rise.

Laura Boldrini, the speaker of the lower house of the Italian parliament, was met with cries of “Assassin” and “They were killed by the state” when she arrived for the triple funeral on Saturday.

Boldrini, who worked with migrants as a UN official before entering politics, said she had never expected to find so many families on the breadline back in Italy.

During the funeral, local priest Father Luigi Conti described how he had been frightened by the number of residents imploring him for economic help recently. “No longer just normal people, manual workers, farmers, but entrepreneurs who are asking me for work,” he said.

Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, the head of the Italian bishops, said the suicides “should make us think seriously and make us exit from this impasse”.

This year the Italian economy is expected to shrink by 1.3 per cent or more after contracting by 2.4 per cent in 2012.

On Saturday the government attempted to halt the pace of small firms shutting down by promising to pay off 40 billion euros in outstanding bills owed to Italian companies for public works.

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