European edition, Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Motorists based at Aviano Air Base, Italy, might want to think twice about pulling up alongside a scantily clad woman to ask for directions on the SS-13. Or to make a date.

Cesare De Martin, the mayor of San Fior — a small community that sits along the busy roadway between Sacile and Conegliano — has proposed a very public way to deter customers from seeking the services of prostitutes.

In addition to issuing 35 euro fines, police in the community have begun taking pictures of the license plates of cars that pull up beside the prostitutes. The city is exploring the concept of running the pictures in local newspapers.

Martin declined to be interviewed Monday. But he was quoted in numerous Italian articles last week after word spread about his plan.

Prostitution is illegal in Italy, but prostitutes and their customers generally don’t receive harsh punishment if they’re caught.

According to an article posted on @nordest, a regional Web site, San Fior started issuing the fines after the city of Padova generated national attention with a similar crackdown on customers.

But apparently the fines haven’t cut down on the traffic enough. Prostitutes can still be seen on the side of the road routinely, especially on weekend nights.

Martin said police already have taken pictures of license plates and likely would increase the practice if they get legal approval to proceed with publishing the pictures in the papers, according to a Yahoo News article in Italian, quoting the Corriere del Veneto newspaper.

The SS-13 runs across the north of Italy and passes within a few miles of Aviano. Hundreds of Americans who work at the base use the road or cross it on their daily commutes. Some drive through San Fior on their way to the A-27 autostrada and Venice.

Valentina Scheu provided translation for this report.

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Kent has filled numerous roles at Stars and Stripes including: copy editor, news editor, desk editor, reporter/photographer, web editor and overseas sports editor. Based at Aviano Air Base, Italy, he’s been TDY to countries such as Afghanistan Iraq, Kosovo and Bosnia. Born in California, he’s a 1988 graduate of Humboldt State University and has been a journalist for 40 years.

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