Italy may criminalize Holocaust denial

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Rome's synagogue. More than 1,000 Jews were rounded up from the city's ghetto and sent to concentration camps. Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP
11:33 CEST+02:00
As Italy marks 70 years since Rome Jews were rounded up and sent to concentration camps, the country's Senate has put forward a motion to make Holocaust denial a crime.

The Senate’s Justice Committee approved a bill to amend part of Italy’s criminal code to specify Holocaust denial as a crime, Il Fatto Quotidiano reported.

The move will strengthen a law which already says defending crimes against humanity can be punished by up to five years in prison.

Politicians from nearly all parties passed the amendment, the newspaper reported.

“This is an important response to all the historical revisionists, unfortunately present in Italy and in Europe, that want to distort history and memory,” said Monica Cirinnà, a committee member, was quoted by the website, Blitz Quotidiano, as saying.

The decision comes as Italy marks the 70th anniversary since Jews were rounded up from the Rome Ghetto and sent to concentration camps. Of more than 1,000 people deported, only 16 returned.

The news also follows the death on Friday of Nazi war criminal Erich Priebke in Rome, who was serving a sentence for his part in the Ardeatine caves massacre in 1944. A total of 335 Italians were killed in the massacre; a response to a partisan attack on German soldiers.

Priebke was himself a Holocaust denier and never showed regret for his actions.

Cirinnà said the Senate decision could help combat the former SS officer’s legacy: “The approval of the degree will be a conclusive response to the contents of Priebke’s will that could deny the existence of the gas chambers in concentration camps.”

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A funeral service for Priebke on Tuesday attracted neo-Nazi sympathisers, prompting concern that if he is buried the grave could become a pilgrimage site. 

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