Italy on Friday started expelling European Union citizens considered a threat to society. The move came amid a crime wave involving many immigrants from new EU member Romania – and after a deadly assault on a navy officer’s wife that shocked the nation.

Giovanna Reggiani, 47, died Thursday night after two days in a coma. Her autopsy was performed on Friday. The alleged aggressor, a 24-year-old Romanian gypsy (Roma) named Nicolae Romolus Mailat, was arrested on suspicion of homicide and robbery. A hearing Friday is expected to charge him with murder and robbery.

Reggiani suffered “massive” head injuries consistent with blows from a blunt object such as a rock, police said.

Italian Premier Romano Prodi came under fire from opposition figures on Wednesday, after saying his government backed an “open doors policy” on immigration.

Addressing the Foreign Press Association in the capital, Prodi said the centre-left coalition had no intention of changing “the open doors policy it has responsibly embarked upon” since coming to power last year. The premier’s sentiments were echoed during a Senate speech by Economy Minister Tommaso Padoa-Schioppa, who said he was in favour of a policy that welcomed foreigners. “The presence of immigrants is a true blessing: for businesses, for less skilled workers and in helping care for the elderly and disabled,” he said. But figures from the centre-right opposition coalition, which introduced the country’s tough, existing immigration laws while last in power, slammed the government’s approach. Senator Alfredo Mantovano of the rightist National Alliance party warned of an immigrant influx in the wake of the premier’s comments.