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Last Updated: Monday, 5 November 2007, 09:55 GMT
Italy starts deporting Romanians
Italy is clearing an illegal camp housing Romanians
An illegal camp housing Romanians is being dismantled near Rome
Italian authorities have started deporting Romanian immigrants with criminal records under a controversial new law to tackle crime.

The move was prompted by the murder of a woman in Rome, allegedly by a Romanian illegal immigrant.

Italy's government adopted emergency legislation allowing the swift deportation of immigrants accused of committing crimes.

Romania has warned against a xenophobic wave targeting Romanians in Italy.

Four Romanians were expelled by the Milan authorities on Friday night, with another 12 deportations authorised.

It is not clear whether the new Italian legislation will stand the test of European law, which allows EU citizens to travel freely across member states' borders.

The Romanian Prime Minister, Calin Popescu Tariceanu, will travel to Rome soon for emergency talks with his counterpart, Romano Prodi.

Shacks torn down

Bucharest has warned against a wave of xenophobia, following an assault on three Romanians by a mob of Italians in Rome on Friday.

The situation, already tense, reached a critical point in late October, when Nicolae Romulus Mailat, a Romanian citizen and illegal immigrant, was charged with the murder in Rome of Giovanna Reggiani.

Romanian authorities describe Mailat as an ethnic Roma (Gypsy). He had been living in an illegal shanty town at Tor di Quinto on the edge of Rome, inhabited mainly by Roma. Italy demolished the shacks there at the weekend.

The number of Romanians in Italy is estimated at more than 550,000, about 1% of the total population.

More than 1,000 foreigners risk being expelled under the new Italian decree, Italian media report. It has not yet been approved by the national parliament.

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