Indian farm worker dies in Italy without medical help after arm severed by machine

A 31-year-old Indian casual worker in Italy has died tragically after he was dumped on the road without medical assistance by his employer after his arm was severed by heavy farm machinery, an incident that has shocked the country.
Satnam Singh
Satnam Singh

London/Rome | A 31-year-old Indian casual worker in Italy has died tragically after he was dumped on the road without medical assistance by his employer after his arm was severed by heavy farm machinery, an incident that has shocked the country.

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said Satnam 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.

Singh was injured by heavy machinery while working in a vegetable field in Lazio, near Rome, on Monday.

He died in a hospital in Rome on Wednesday after being airlifted there when he was eventually found. He died because he lost so much blood that he couldn't recover from his injuries, Ansa news agency reported on Friday.

The Embassy of India in Rome posted on Wednesday on X that it was aware of the very unfortunate demise of an Indian national in Latina, Italy.

"We are in contact with local authorities. Efforts are underway to contact the family and provide consular assistance," it wrote without giving more information. Singh hailed from Punjab.

Singh lost his arm when it was trapped in a plastic fruit wrapping machine, the report said.

Singh's employer, Antonello Lovato, loaded him and his wife into a van and left them by the side of the road near their home, it said.

"We heard his wife's screams who kept calling for help, then we saw a lad who was holding him in his arms and who carried him into the house," the report quoted Ilario Pepe, the owner of the house, as saying.

"We thought he was helping him, but then he ran away. I ran after him," said Pepe, "and I saw him get into a van and I asked him what had happened and why he hadn't taken him to hospital.

"He replied 'he's not on the books as a regular employee".

Singh's severed arm was placed in a fruit crate.

His employer Antonello Lovato has been charged with negligent manslaughter.

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, Ansa reported on Friday.

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 on Thursday 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.

If people ignore these atrocities, they will stop defending Italy and its values, he said.

"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'.

The owner of the fruit and vegetable picking firm, and Satnam's employer, Antonello Lovato, may face gangmastering and manslaughter charges, Ansa quoted Latina police as saying. Latina, a Mussolini-founded new town south of Rome that is home to thousands of immigrant farm workers, is to hold a day of civic mourning when Singh is buried.

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.

"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.

If people ignore these atrocities, they will stop defending Italy and its values, he said.

"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'.

The owner of the fruit and vegetable picking firm, and Satnam's employer, Antonello Lovato, may face gangmastering and manslaughter charges, Ansa quoted Latina police as saying. Latina, a Mussolini-founded new town south of Rome that is home to thousands of immigrant farm workers, is to hold a day of civic mourning when Singh is buried.

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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