Italy: Air-to-air missile, arsenal seized during raids on neo-Nazi cell
Police in northern Italy have arrested three neo-Nazis, including one linked to a neo-fascist Italian political party, after uncovering a huge stash of automatic weapons, an air-to-air missile, and material featuring Nazi symbols.
Italian media say the raids were part of an investigation into Italian far-right help for Russian-backed separatist forces in eastern Ukraine.
The Turin special police force, called Digos, led the operations, assisted by police in Milan, Varese, Forli, and Novara.
In a statement Monday, Turin police said one of the arrested had in 2001 run unsuccessfully as a Senate candidate for the neo-fascist Forza Nuova party. At his home in Gallarate, police found nine assault weapons, nearly 30 hunting rifles, pistols, and bayonets as well as ammunition and antique Nazi plaques featuring swastikas.
Among the Nazi paraphernalia were swastika-emblazoned signs and roundels, as well as an old street sign bearing the name “Adolf Hitler Platz,” seemingly from a square previously named for the World War Two-era dictator.
Two other neo-Nazis were detained after police found a French-made missile at an airport hangar that they apparently were seeking to sell. It is not clear how the Matra missile found its way into the hands of the neo-Nazi group, but local media reported it was made in France in October 1980.
Other illegal materials, including two rocket launcher containers, were found alongside the air-to-air missile.
Italian media named those arrested as Fabio Del Bergiolo, 50, an Italian ex-customs officer and far-right Forza Nuova party activist; Alessandro Monti, 42, a Swiss national; and Fabio Bernardi, 51, also Italian.
On 3 July a court in Genoa jailed three men who were found guilty of fighting alongside the Russian-backed separatists who control a large swathe of Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
More than 10,000 people have died in fighting since Russian-backed separatists launched an insurgency in eastern Ukraine in April 2014. Skirmishes with Ukrainian government troops continue, but the frontline has remained generally static for more than a year.