An Italian farmer has been arrested for shooting at migrant farmworkers to get them to work faster and more. The workers had been threatened repeatedly, an investigation found.
The 35-year-old man was arrested in the coastal town of Terracina, between Rome and Naples. He allegedly shot at the Indian workers he employed to push them to work more.
Minister for Agricultural Policies Teresa Bellanova reacted by saying that she was "speechless." She and called for an end to abusive labor practices. She said that it's important that laws against worker exploitation are "fully enforced."
"Stories like these need to stop happening," Democratic Party (PD) secretary and Lazio regional president Nicola Zingaretti said.
Shot to threaten workers
Terracina police had started an investigation after five farmhands had accused their employer of threatening them repeatedly, including with firearms, to make them harvest the crops faster.
Some of the workers quit, which reportedly enraged the farmer. On October 10, after the another farmhand decided to leave the job, the farmer allegedly went to the workers' lodgings, determined to teach them a "lesson." He reportedly shot at some of workers but did not hit any. He allegedly also pointed the weapon at their throats.
When police arrived at the scene of the crime, the farmer did not resist his arrest. However, when asked to show them the shotgun that he was in legal possession of, police says that he claimed that it had been stolen. Officers found that accomplices had helped him to hide the weapon, which was found and confiscated.
The farm owner will now have to answer to charges of labor exploitation, aggravated threats with the use of a firearm, bodily harm, illegal possession of ammunition and lack of compliance with laws regarding the reporting of explosive materials, subjecting laborers to degrading conditions, and paying as well as paying them wages not in line with the laws in force.