ROME (Oct. 28)
Ten neo-fascists who led an anti-Semitic demonstration at an Italian-Israeli soccer match in Varese on March 7, 1979, have been sentenced to three years’ imprisonment and the leader of the group to three years and six months.
The trial and the sentence marked the first time an Italian court has applied the law prohibiting “apologia of genocide.” The Public Prosecutor. Giovanni Porqueddu, categorically rejected the defense attorney’s attempt to minimize the demonstration as “mere sports fanaticism.”
The Union of Italian Jewish Communities which joined the prosecution’s case and was represented by its own attorney. Aldo Lo Zito, won an additional penalty in the form of a fine. The sum, to be decided by the court, will be set aside for the purpose of sending groups of young people to visit the sites of World War 11 concentration camps.
According to the prosecutor, the anti-Semitic demonstration at Varese was far more serious than a “simple fascist gathering.” The only possible legal definition of what took place that day was “apologia of genocide.” he said. He noted that the defendants raised huge blue and white crosses in the stands as they shouted slogans such as “Hitler taught us that Jew-killing is no crime” and “ten a hundred, a thousand Mauthausens.” a reference to a notorious Nazi concentration camp.
Poiqueddu said the demonstration was organized and clearly was not the work of impassioned sports fans but had “a precise propagandist, political and apologist (for genocide) character.” Lo Zito. speaking for the Jewish community, said: “We do not want persecutions or excessively high penalties, only that with this sentence the young people are made to understand that certain ideologies are insane and must be rejected for being extremely dangerous.”
He added: “Such demonstrations must be abolished in order to avoid Italian Jews organizing themselves in self-defense in the same way as French Jews are now doing. Jews should not be forced to defend civil liberties. There is a law for that.”