(ANSA) - Rome, December 16 - A leader in the neo-Fascist
group CasaPound was sentenced Monday to three months in jail and
fined 100 euros for tearing down a European Union flag from the
EU's Rome offices over the weekend.
Simone Di Stefano, the national vice-president of the club
and fledgling political party, was arrested Saturday during a
snap demonstration after he erected a ladder, scaled the EU
building and removed the EU flag in an attempt to replace it
with an Italian tricolor.
CasaPound and extreme-right-wing movement Forza Nuova were
demonstrating outside the courthouse as it made its ruling in
the case Monday.
Both groups have participated in the so-called Pitchfork
Movement demonstrations, which snarled traffic and blocked
commerce in cities across Italy all last week in anti-government
and anti-austerity protests.
Some leaders in the Movement, which originally consisted
primarily of disgruntled truckers and farmers, have blamed
"subversive fringes" from the extreme right for infiltrating the
movement and spreading violence, looting and destroying public
On Friday a spokesman from the loose-knit Movement raised
suspicions of an extreme-right agenda when he blamed Jewish
bankers for "enslaving" recession-weary Italy.
On Monday the Movement was showing signs of losing
Local Pitchfork groups in the Sicily and Veneto regions
announced they would not be attending a large-scale
demonstration scheduled Wednesday in Rome for fear of violence.
Still, Movement leader Lucio Chiavegato was undeterred.
While he acknowledged evidence of a "violent fringe"
marching alongside his Movement, he said that the group's "eight
million demonstrators" were able to maintain control.
Rome Mayor Ignazio Marino said the city was prepared for
any outcome during protests and would not tolerate protesters
blocking traffic in the way that has typified protests elsewhere
in the country.
"The city has no intention of its soil being occupied by
tents in places like Piazza del Popolo, especially not right
before Christmas," said Marino.
"We will not tolerate unauthorized sit-ins of public
property nor violence".