‘Orangutan’ MP faces defamation probe

Roberto Calderoli is to be formally investigated for defamation after comparing Italy's first black minister, Cécile Kyenge, to an orangutun.

'Orangutan' MP faces defamation probe
Roberto Calderoli is to be investigated for defamation. Photo: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP

A complaint was filed on Tuesday by a lawyer to the public prosecutor of Bergamo, in northern Italy, according to reports in the Italian media.  Prosecutors will investigate the matter even though there has not been a formal complaint from integration minister Kyenge.

Calderoli, a senator with the anti-immigration Northern League party, could face up to four-and-a-half years in prison for the comments, which Prime Minister Enrico Letta described as a “shameful chapter” for Italy.

Calderoli, who has courted controversy for years with a series of racist, sexist and Islamophobic jibes, said at a rally on Saturday: "When I see pictures of Kyenge, I cannot help thinking of similarities with an orangutan.”

He later apologised for the remarks and pledged to send Kyenge a bunch of roses. But he vowed not resign unless those who elected him want him to.

The comments were met with a backlash in Italy and around the world. Thousands of people have signed an online petition calling for his resignation.  

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.