The Italian cabinet has voted to expel EU citizens who threaten public security in the wake of an horrific attack on a 47-year old woman at an isolated train station near Rome. The victim was allegedly raped, beaten and left for dead in a ditch after being thrown off a bridge. She is now in a coma in hospital.
A Romanian man living rough nearby has been arrested in connection with the incident. Romania entered the EU in January and research suggests that two thirds of those arrested for criminal offences in Rome since the beginning of the year are Romanian nationals. Mayor of Rome Walter Veltroni now wants the issue raised with Brussels.
The cabinet has voted to extend the use of expulsion orders to EU citizens accused of petty crimes and to allow local authorities to make the decision. The measure must be voted on by parliament within 60 days to stay in place.
Prime Minister Romano Prodi says he has already discussed joint action with his counterpart in Bucharest.
The Association of Romanians in Italy staged a demonstration last month to show that they did not condone any crimes committed by their fellow citizens.
Figures show the number of immigrants in Italy grew faster in 2006 than any other EU country, with the majority coming from Romania.