It’s OK to call a politician a ‘Nazi’: Italian judge

A rival politician who called the leader of Italy's Lega Nord a Nazi did not commit a crime in doing so, ruled a judge on Thursday.

It's OK to call a politician a 'Nazi': Italian judge
Matteo Salvini, who made a legal complaint after being called a Nazi. Photo: Giuseppe Cacace/AFP

Paolo Ferrero from Italy's Communist Refoundation Party said that Matteo Salvini was “not a jackal but a Nazi,” in March last year.

The comments were made in a Facebook post, which continued: “Salvini uses the disasters and the disorientation created by neoliberalism to artificially construct a war between the poor, while making scapegoats out of what is different,” he continued in his post.

However, Salvini's legal complaint about the remarks has been thrown out by a Turin judge.

“In the environment of political criticism, verbal constraint takes on a peculiar elasticity due to the often heated and severe tone which characterizes political battles,” the judge explained in his closing statement.

In his opinion, he continued, Ferrero's accusation of Nazism “seems to refer not to the criminal policies of xenophobia and genocide, but rather to the early policies of the movement, aimed at constructing false enemies to create social hatred.”

Ferrero celebrated the acquittal by repeating his comparison between Salvini and Hitler's party.

“There are evident parallels between the words and concepts used by Salvini and those used by the Nazis,” he said, according to La Repubblica.

“Calling things by their proper name is the first step to defending ourselves from ideas which in the past led to a barbarity which humanity – with the determined effort of communists – defeated.”


Italian PM Meloni refuses to back down on reporter ‘defamation’ trial

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said on Tuesday she will not withdraw her defamation suit against anti-mafia reporter Roberto Saviano, despite growing criticism that her position of power might skew the trial in her favour.

Italian PM Meloni refuses to back down on reporter 'defamation' trial

On Tuesday, the hard-right leader told Italian daily Corriere della Sera that she was confident the case would be treated with the necessary “impartiality”.

Meloni sued anti-mafia reporter Saviano for alleged defamation after he called her a “bastard” in a 2020 televised outburst over her attitude towards vulnerable migrants.

Meloni’s Brothers of Italy party was in opposition at the time, but took office last month after an electoral campaign that promised to stop migrants crossing the Mediterranean from North Africa.

Press freedom watchdogs and supporters of Saviano have called for the trial, which opened earlier in November, to be scrapped.

READ ALSO: Anti-mafia reporter on trial for ‘defaming’ Italy’s far-right PM

“I don’t understand the request to withdraw the complaint on the pretext that I am now prime minister,” Meloni said.

“I believe that all this will be treated with impartiality, considering the separation of powers.”

She also added: “I am simply asking the court where the line is between the legitimate right to criticise, gratuitous insult and defamation.”

Saviano, best known for his international mafia bestseller “Gomorrah”, faces up to three years in prison if convicted.

The case dates back to December 2020 when Saviano was asked on a political TV chat show for a comment on the death of a six-month-old baby from Guinea in a shipwreck.

On the occasion, he railed at Meloni, who in 2019 had said that charity vessels which rescue migrants “should be sunk”.

Saviano is not the only journalist Meloni is taking to trial. One of the country’s best-known investigative reporters, Emiliano Fittipaldi, said last week the prime minister had sued him for defamation.

READ ALSO: Italian PM Meloni takes another investigative reporter to court

That trial is set to start in 2024.

Watchdogs say such trials are symbolic of a culture in Italy in which public figures intimidate reporters with repeated lawsuits, threatening the erosion of a free press.