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Arrested Veneto separatist says he's 'prisoner of war'

Terrorist suspect exercises right to remain silent

04 April, 18:45
Arrested Veneto separatist says he's 'prisoner of war' (ANSA) - Vicenza, April 4 - Arrested Veneto separatist Luigi Faccia declared himself a "prison of war" on a Friday when he appeared before a preliminary hearing judge in a Vicenza prison.

According to defense lawyers Andrea Arman and Alessandro Zagonel, Faccia read a statement to the judge saying: "As head of the Venetian Liberation, servant of the Most Serene Republic of Venice, I declare myself a prisoner of war". Faccia did not respond to the judge, exercising his right to remain silent before reading the statement.

He later announced his citizenship as "Venetian".

Faccia is one of 24 Veneto separatists arrested Wednesday and suspected of crimes that include criminal association for terrorism and subversion of the democratic order. Also included in the arrest was former MP Franco Rocchetta, the founder of the Liga Veneta (Veneto League) separatist party.

Last month separatists organized an unofficial referendum in which an overwhelming majority of participants voted in favor of leaving Italy, which some claim more approximately two million people participated, a figure disputed by many critics.

Among their complaints, the separatists said their region is paying more in taxes than it can afford, and do not receive enough government services or authority in return.

The economic crisis has increased support for independence in the northeastern region of Veneto, where many blame central government for bleeding local businesses dry with high taxation.

The Liga Veneta was a founding member of Northern League, a federation of regionalist parties which has recently upped its drive for greater autonomy for wealthy northern regions and started calling for outright independence again, the original demand of its early years.