Employer arrested for Indian farm worker's death in Italy

Italian police have arrested the owner of the agriculture company who dumped a 31-year-old Indian worker on the road without medical assistance after his arm was severed by heavy farm machinery, causing his death
Satnam Singh
Satnam Singh

Rome | Italian police have arrested the owner of the agriculture company who dumped a 31-year-old Indian worker on the road without medical assistance after his arm was severed by heavy farm machinery, causing his death, a tragic incident that shocked the country and its leadership.

Satnam Singh was abandoned by his employer after a strawberry wrapping machine severed his arm in Lazio, near Rome, last month and died due to "copious bleeding", the ANSA news agency reported.

The Sikh casual farm labourer died in a hospital in Rome two days later after being airlifted there when he was eventually found.

Police on Tuesday arrested the alleged gangmaster, Antonello Lovato, on suspicion of causing Singh's manslaughter death, the report said.

Prosecutors said in a statement that the Sikh farmer, who died of a massive haemorrhage in a Rome hospital, "would in all likelihood have been saved if he had been promptly assisted".

"We were waiting for this news, we were angry," the president of the Lazio Indian community, Gurmukh Singh, said.

"The worst thing (Lovato) did was to leave him outside his home instead of taking him to hospital," he was quoted as saying.

"An accident can happen, but not calling for medical assistance is unacceptable," he said.

Singh's death has spurred outrage at gangmastering, which is widespread in Italy, especially in the south of the country, and modern forms of slavery.

According to an earlier report, Lovato loaded Singh and his wife into a van and left them by the side of the road near their home. Singh's severed arm was placed in a fruit crate.

Meanwhile, Singh's widow Soni, who was treated for shock after the incident, received a special 'justice' stay permit to end her illegal status in Italy, it said.

On June 26, India asked Italy to take prompt action against those responsible for Singh's death.

Muktesh Pardeshi, Secretary [CPV & OIA], conveyed to Luigi Maria Vignali, the Director General for Italian Citizens Abroad and Migration Policies, India's "deep concern" about the death of Singh, the Indian Embassy in Italy said in a post on X. He “called for prompt action against those responsible. Embassy is in contact with the family of Satnam Singh for consular help & transportation of mortal remains," the mission added.

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said last month that Singh, one of thousands of Indian immigrants who work the fields in the country, was the victim of "inhuman acts".

"These are inhumane acts that do not belong to the Italian people. I hope that this barbarity will be punished harshly,” she said following a Cabinet meeting.

Italy's Minister of Labour, Marina Calderone, said the death of Singh had been an “act of barbarity".

Opposition 5-Star Movement (M5S) leader Giuseppe Conte had urged Meloni to act to stamp out brutal gangmastering.

"You lose your arm while you're working in the fields for four euros an hour. You're not immediately treated. They put you in a van, and they dump you like rubbish outside your home," Conte wrote on X.

"Beside you, a strawberry basket in which your severed arm is left. You bleed out and die. It sounds like the story of a slave centuries ago. We can't close our eyes, we can't think about making profits while cancelling the dignity of work and the last shreds of humanity," he wrote.

"We are ready to do our bit in parliament against these barbarities, which must be rooted out of the fields all over Italy, he added.

Gangmastering and the often violent exploitation of migrant farm labourers is a chronic problem in Italy, especially in the south.

Latina hosts thousands of immigrant labourers, many of them Sikhs, working picking fruit and vegetables for the local 'agro-mafia'.

Workplace accident insurance agency INAIL said earlier this month that fatal accidents in Italy had risen by four to 268 in the first four months of this year.

There were about 100 last year, it said.

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