An Italian woman has been charged with sexual assault for kissing the helmet of a police officer during a protest.

Nina De Chiffre was protesting plans to introduce a high-speed train line in the northern-Italy town of Turin when she planted the kiss on a riot police officer.

She also licked her fingers and touched the officer's mouth.

Her actions were seen by many as a gesture of peace.


However, it has now emerged that police have charged her with "sexual violence" and "offence to a public official" over the incident.

Franco Maccari, the secretary general of the Italian police officers' union, said De Chiffre's actions were inappropriate, the Huffington Post reported.

"If I kissed her on the mouth, wouldn't it be a violation?" Maccari said in an interview with Italy's Radio24. "If a police officer had kissed a random protester, the third world war would have burst."

De Chiffre earlier said her actions were meant to be an act of defiance.

She reportedly told Italian media she would rather be prosecuted than have her gesture misinterpreted as an act of peace.