Page last updated at 17:30 GMT, Saturday, 31 January 2009

Fines fraud hits Italian drivers

By Duncan Kennedy
BBC News, Rome

Ponta Tresa at the border between Switzerland and Italy
Drivers who made mistakes were caught on camera and fined

Thousands of drivers in Italy are expected to seek compensation after it was revealed that a system to catch them jumping red lights was rigged.

More than 100 people, including police officers, are being investigated as part of the fraud.

The T-Redspeed system - a revolutionary camera technology - has been in use for two years in 300 areas across Italy.

Cameras linked to traffic lights capture 3-d images of vehicles if they jump the lights or are speeding.

It can also detect offences like illegal u-turns.

Fraudulent fines

It is believed more than a million drivers have been trapped by the system.

But it is now claimed the lights were rigged to change from yellow to red in three seconds instead of the regulation five or six seconds.

The fraud was uncovered by a senior police officer who noticed an unusually high number of fines being issued.

Instead of an average 15 fines a day in some places, the figure jumped to more than 1,000.

The fraud may have netted as much as $170m (116.4m) for those involved.

The scheme's inventor is now under house arrest, though his lawyers say he is innocent.

More than 100 other people including 63 police commanders are also being investigated as part of the scam.

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