Italian PM Meloni Files Defamation Case Against Noted Historian

Tue Apr 16 2024
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ROME: A court in Italy gave the green light on Tuesday to a fresh defamation case brought by Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, this time against a noted historian who called the far-right leader a “neo-Nazi at heart”.

Left-wing classicist Luciano Canfora, made the comments during a school debate in Bari, southern Italy, in April 2022 — six months before the Brothers of Italy leader took office following a historic election victory.

The trial will start on October 7, with Meloni seeking 20,000 euros (21,260 dollars) in damages.

In 2023, Meloni sued journalist Roberto Saviano for criticizing her stance against migrants in December 2020, with an Italian court handing him a suspended fine of one thousand euros.

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She has also filed a case against the frontman of British rock band Placebo, after he called her “fascist” and “racist” during a performance in Italy in July last year. That trial has yet to get started.

Meloni had shared footage of Canfora speaking on the social media platform Facebook, with a statement condemning his “unacceptable words” which she termed a “vulgar propaganda to young students”.

Speaking to AFP ahead of Tuesday’s hearing in a tribunal in Bari, Canfora — a former professor in Latin and Greek philology at the University of Bari who is well-known in Italy — was unrepentant.

Canfora said that when a person says neo-Nazi, he does not think of someone who is perpetrating crimes, or killings, he thinks of someone who still has some ideas, some mental attitudes that hark back to the past.

He said that in her autobiography published in 2021, “I am Giorgia”, Meloni mentioned having “taken up the baton” of the post-war far-right leaders in Italy, including Giorgio Almirante.

Almirante was one of the founders of the now-defunct Italian Social Movement, a party formed by Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini’s supporters after World War II.

Meloni’s Brothers of Italy is a political descendant of the MSI, although she informed parliament when she took office that she had never felt closeness or sympathy to undemocratic regimes, including Fascism.

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