Italy: Judges see 'romance' in child sex case

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Italy's top appeals court has annulled a five-year jail sentence against a 60-year-old man found in bed with a girl of 11 on the grounds it's a "romantic relationship", it's reported.

The case happened in the southern Italian town of Catanzaro, reports Italian news website TGCom24. The girl is said to be from a disadvantaged background and was in the care of the man, who works in the town's social services department. Police discovered the pair in bed during a raid on his seaside villa. He was given a five-year sentence for sexual violence against a minor. The age of consent is 14. It rises to 16 where one of the partners is in a position of authority or care over the younger party.

But the court has quashed the original sentence due to extenuating circumstances - the girl has reportedly professed to be in love with the defendant, and the court has found the pair have a "romantic relationship". The case has been sent back to the Catanzaro court for a retrial. Court cases in Italy are normally subject to several levels of appeal before a sentence is confirmed.

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