Image Source : REUTERS A Sikh demonstrator attends a protest called by the Italian trade union CGIL following the death of an Indian farm labourer, Satnam Singh, in a gruesome accident, in Latina

Italian police arrested a farm owner on Tuesday on suspicion of homicide after one of his workers, an undocumented laborer from India, bled to death when his arm was cut off by a piece of farm equipment. The landowner abandoned the bleeding worker and failed to call an ambulance, prosecutors said. The death of Satnam Singh has shocked Italians and sparked protests by unions and farm workers demanding better working conditions. They have called for an end to the exploitive “caporalato” system of using underpaid migrant labor to work in Italy’s agriculture industry.

Even President Sergio Mattarella has weighed in on the case, referring to what he said was the “cruel” exploitation of workers like Singh and “inhuman” conditions in which seasonal farmhands often work in Italy. Carabinieri police in Latina, a largely agricultural province south of Rome, arrested farm owner Antonello Lovato after prosecutors bumped up the original suspected crime of manslaughter to homicide with “malice afterthought,” a statement from Latina prosecutors said.

Singh died from “copious blood loss: Forensic report 

They did so after forensics determined that Singh died from “copious blood loss.” The forensic report found he “most likely” would have survived if he had received prompt medical care, the prosecutors’ statement said. But an ambulance apparently wasn’t called right away after Singh’s arm was wrenched off when it got stuck in a nylon-wrapping machine. Italian daily Corriere della Sera quoted the arrest warrant signed by Judge Giuseppe Molfese as saying Lovato was driving the tractor that was pulling the nylon-wrapping machine, and then abandoned the bleeding Singh, leaving him outside his home.

Italian news reports have quoted witnesses as saying Lovato refused entreaties by Singh’s wife, who also worked at the farm, to call an ambulance, claiming he was already dead. RAI state television interviewed a neighbor who finally called an ambulance. Singh was brought to the San Camillo hospital in Rome where he was pronounced dead some two days later.

In the statement, Latina prosecutors said Singh’s condition after the injury was so serious that it was obvious he needed prompt medical attention. “At the present time, therefore, it must be held that the decision to omit the necessary care constituted acceptance of the risk of the lethal event and united the cause that directly resulted in death,” the statement said.

There was no immediate reply to an email seeking comment from the law offices of Stefano Perotti and Valerio Righi, identified by RAI as Lovato’s lawyers. RAI has quoted Lovato’s father, Renzo, as saying Singh had been warned not to get so close to the equipment. He said Singh took the warning “too lightly,” and that his attitude “will cost everyone dearly.”

(With inputs from agency)

ALSO READ: Italian Parliament pays tribute to Indian worker dumped to die, Meloni assures severe punishment to accused