London, October 31 (ANI): A court in Italy has chopped a murderer's prison term after his genes were linked to violent behaviour.
Abdelmalek Bayout, who has been living in the European country since 1993, confessed to the murder of Walter Felipe Novoa Perez in 2007.
According to Bayout's testimony, Perez, a Colombian, insulted Bayout, a Muslim Algerian, over his kohl eye make-up, reports Nature.
Bayout's lawyer, Tania Cattarossi, requested the court to take her client's mental health into consideration, claiming he may have been mentally ill at the time of the crime.
Judge Paolo Alessio Vernì considered three psychiatric reports and Bayout's psychiatric illness as a mitigating factor before reaching his decision.
Bayout was sentenced to 9 years and 2 months in prison, nearly "three years less than what he would have received has he been deemed to be of sound mind".
However, at an appeal hearing in May this year, Judge Pier Valerio Reinotti, the Court of Appeal in Trieste, asked for an independent psychiatric report that concluded that Bayout's genes would make him more prone to behaving violently if provoked.
Consequently, another year was dropped from the defendant's sentence, over the argument that his genes "would make him particularly aggressive in stressful situations".
The case, reported by local paper MessaggeroVeneto, is the first of its kind where behavioural genetics has affected a sentence passed by a European court.
Researchers, on the other hand, have expressed their doubts over the reduced sentence, questioning if it was grounded on sound science.
Steve Jones, a geneticist at University College London, said: "90 per cent of all murders are committed by people with a Y chromosome - males. Should we always give males a shorter sentence?"
"I have low MAOA activity but I don't go around attacking people." (ANI)