(JTA) – Seven people associated with the anti-Semitic website Holywar were charged with racial discrimination and defamation.
The charges came after a lengthy investigation in which the suspects are accused of defaming numerous public figures, including Pope Francis, who was depicted “in photoshopped images dressed as a bearded Orthodox Jew waving the Israeli flag with a swastika at the center of the Star of David,” according to the Italian news agency ANSA.
Based on a complaint lodged by Federico Steinhaus, a Jewish leader in the northern town of Merano, prosecutors in nearby Bolzano ordered raids on the homes of the suspects in towns and cities throughout Italy, ANSA reported. They seized “material of interest” that included computers and other IT material, letters, brochures, CDs and DVDs.
Other targeted figures included Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi and the actor Roberto Benigni, who won an Oscar for his film “Life Is Beautiful,” set during the Holocaust.