Martedì, 16 Ottobre 2018
BERGAMO

Calderoli probed over orangutan jibe, row rumbles on

English
© ANSA

(By Christopher Livesay)
Bergamo, July 17 - Northern League Deputy Senate
Speaker Roberto Calderoli is being investigated for aggravated
defamation and incitement of racial hatred for comparing
Integration Minister Cecile Kyenge to an orangutan, Bergamo
prosecutors said on Wednesday.
Calderoli made the comparison, which he called "a joke",
during a weekend rally for the anti-immigrant Northern Leage at
a festival near his home city of Bergamo.
He later said that his comments, slammed as the umpteenth
racist insult by members of his party against Italy's first
black minister, were born from his "love for animals".
"It was an aesthetic judgment, not meant to be racist," he
added.
His apologies were not enough to prevent an official
complaint to Italy's anti-racial discrimination body on Monday
by Democratic Party (PD) Senator Sergio Lo Giudice, who called
the remarks "a disturbing incident of racially motivated
offenses".
The incident has become a firestorm as embarrassing
international headlines have mounted.
But the Northern League has rallied behind their
heavyweight, who has showed no signs of bowing to calls for his
resignation, thanks in part to the support of Northern League
leader and Lombardy Governor Roberto Maroni, who considers the
case closed.
According to sources at Premier Enrico Letta's office, the
premier said Tuesday that the case had not blown over and that,
by acting in this way, Maroni was "an accomplice to the insult
to Minister Kyenge".
Maroni on Wednesday accused Letta of spouting "rubbish".
"For me the question is closed. Calderoli has apologised
and Letta would be better taking care of other things".
Calderoli is only one of several Italian politicians to
attack the Congolese-born doctor-turned-politician, who was
appointed in April.
A Trento area councillor was expelled Wednesday from his
political party for racist remarks about Italy's first black
cabinet minister.
"Go back to the jungle," Paolo Serafini, formerly of the
Northern League, wrote on his Facebook page about Kyenge.
Along with the comment, Serafini posted photos of monkeys.
As a result, he was ejected from the Trentino Project, a
movement he joined after leaving the Northern League.
On the same day a local councillor in Padua was found
guilty of instigation to commit racist sex crimes against
Kyenge.
Dolores Valandro was handed a suspended sentence of 13
months in prison and was banned from public office for three
years.
Valandro, who called for the minister to be raped in a June
13 Facebook post, has since been expelled from the Northern
League.

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