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CRIME

Italy may criminalize Holocaust denial

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.

Italy may criminalize Holocaust denial
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

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.”

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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BOLOGNA

Italy’s president calls for ‘full truth’ on anniversary of Bologna bombing

President Sergio Mattarella said on Tuesday it was the state's duty to shed more light on the 1980 bombing of Bologna's train station, on the 42nd anniversary of the attack that killed 85 people and injured 200.

Italy's president calls for 'full truth' on anniversary of Bologna bombing

On August 2nd 1980, a bomb exploded in the railway station’s waiting room, causing devastation on an unprecedented scale.

Five members of terrorist groups were later convicted in relation to the bombing, the worst episode in Italy’s ‘Years of Lead’ period of political violence in the 1970s and 80s.

Most recently, in 2020, a former member of the far-right Armed Revolutionary Nucleus (NAR) was sentenced to life imprisonment for providing logistical support to those who carried out the attack.

But suspicions remain of cover-ups and the involvement of “deviant elements” within the nation’s security services, reported Italian news agency Ansa.

READ ALSO: Bologna massacre: 40 years on, questions remain over Italy’s deadliest postwar terror attack

“The bomb that killed people who happened to be at the station on that morning 42 years ago still reverberates with violence in the depths of the country’s conscience,” Mattarella said in a speech marking the anniversary on Tuesday.

“It was the act of cowardly men of unequalled inhumanity, one of the most terrible of the history of the Italian Republic.

A train compartment at Bologna station pictured following the 1980 bombing attributed to the neo-fascist terrorist organization Nuclei Armati Rivoluzionari.

“It was a terrorist attack that sought to destabilise democratic institutions and sow fear, hitting ordinary citizens going about their everyday tasks.

“On the day of the anniversary our thoughts go, above all, to the relatives forced to suffer the greatest pain.

“The neo-fascist nature of the massacre has been established in court and further steps have been made to unveil the cover-ups and those who ordered the attack in order to comply with the Republic’s duty to seek the full truth”.

The bombing remains Western Europe’s fourth deadliest postwar terror attack, and one of the most devastating in Italy’s history.

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