Italy defends ‘fascist’ officers who killed Berlin attacker

Italy's Interior Minister on Thursday angrily dismissed questions about the far-right sympathies of the policemen who killed the Berlin Christmas market attacker, saying Europe should be grateful to them.

Italy defends 'fascist' officers who killed Berlin attacker
Interior Minister Marco Minniti speaking last month in Libya. Photo: STR/AFP

The minister, Marco Minniti, publicly hailed Luca Scata, 29, and Christian Movio, 34, as heroes after their December 23rd shoot-out with Anis Amri ended with the Tunisian Islamist militant lying dead on a pavement near the Sesto San Giovanni railway station in Milan.

Amri's death came four days after he hijacked a truck in the German capital Berlin, killed its Polish driver and ploughed the vehicle into a Christmas market, killing another 11 people in an attack claimed by Islamic State.

READ ALSO: What was the Berlin market attacker doing in Milan?

The Italian centre-left government's decision to identify the officers involved in the Milan shoot-out raised eyebrows immediately.

The national feelgood factor surrounding their actions began to evaporate with the emergence of social media posts which point to the officers being admirers of World War II era fascist dictator Benito Mussolini.

Scata, the rookie whose shots killed Amri, published pictures of Mussolini on his Instagram account along with a selfie showing him making a fascist salute whilst wearing a Union Flag hoodie.

Movio also published questionable posts on Facebook, including an image of a Coca-Cola bottle with an image of Adolf Hitler on it.

The media images have made it impossible for Germany, given its Nazi past, to contemplate giving the officers any kind of official recognition for their bravery on December 23rd.

Talk of Italy giving them medals has also been dropped and it was revealed earlier last month that the two officers had been transferred from Milan to a new unknown location.

Against that backdrop, Minniti took umbrage at being asked if there was any place for officers with fascist sympathies in a police force of a democratic country.

“When the officers intercepted Amri and asked to check his identity, the first thing that he did was to open fire,” the minister said. “He hit one of them. The other one managed to get out of the way and neutralized the terrorist.

“You understand that we have to be just a tiny bit grateful to these two guys and the interior ministry is grateful to them,” the minister said.

He added: “Just imagine for a moment what might have happened had it gone the other way.

“It was a 50-50 situation. That night, the police neutralized a terrorist, but it could have been the terrorist who neutralized the police. You understand what I am saying.

“If Amri had been able to get away from San Giovanni what would we be discussing in Europe now?”

By Angus MacKinnon

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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.