In the first case, judges halved the man’s prison sentence on the grounds that he committed the murder in “a passionate storm”.
A second man’s prison sentence was halved as judges ruled he murdered his partner out of “disappointment” the woman had not left her lover.
With women’s rights advocates up in arms, Conte, a trained lawyer, stepped into the debate with a post on Facebook saying that while judges must remain independent, such cases raised cultural issues he felt bound to comment on.
“We must clarify with force that NO EMOTIONAL REACTION, NO FEELINGS, HOWEVER INTENSE, can justify or mitigate the gravity of femicide,” he declared.
The comment follows another contested case, in which an appeals court in Ancona overturned a rape conviction noting that the two suspects had found the victim too unattractive and “masculine” to want to rape her.
Femicide and violence against women is a longstanding issue in Italy, and the nation has among the highest femicide rates in Europe.
There was one femicide every two days in Italy between 2006 and 2016, a total of 1,740 and an average of 174 a year, a recent study found.
Of this number, 59 were killed by a current partner, 17 by an ex, 33 by a family member and nine by a person they knew, the study also showed.
Furthermore, one in three women in Italy between the ages of 16 and 70 has experienced physical or sexual abuse.
A generation ago, the Italian penal code prescribed prison sentences as short as three years for men who killed women out of jealousy.
Until 1981, the law sanctioned leniency for male defendants who murdered to preserve “family honour”.
Conte, who is not a member of either of the two ruling parties – the rightist League and the populist 5-Star Movement – said Italy must achieve a “cultural revolution” in its attitudes to women in order to build “a better society”.