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Italy marks 100 years since assassination of Giacomo Matteotti

Matteotti was a staunch critic of Mussolini's Fascist regime.

Italy on Monday marks 100 years since Italian socialist politician Giacomo Matteotti was assassinated by Fascists in a killing that shook Benito Mussolini's regime.

Speaking in parliament on 30 May 1924, Matteotti alleged that the Fascists had rigged the results of the general election held the previous month, and condemned the violence they used to gain votes.

Less than two weeks later, the 39-year-old Matteotti was abducted from outside his Rome residence, beaten violently and killed by a group of Fascists.

His body was not discovered until 16 August, buried in a shallow grave near Riano, about 30 kilometres north of the capital.

The so-called Matteotti Crisis initially threatened to bring down the Fascist regime however Mussolini and his government survived and the king was unwilling to dismiss him.

Ultimately Mussolini assumed responsibility for the assassination, dissolving parliament and assuming dictatorial powers in a totalitarian Fascist regime.

One century after the speech that led to his assassination, Matteotti was remembered in parliament by Italy's right-wing premier Giorgia Meloni who described him as "a free and courageous man killed by Fascist thugs for his ideas."

"100 years on from that speech, honouring his memory is of vital importance to remind us, every day, how valuable freedom of speech and thought is against those who would go so far as to claim the right to determine what we can and cannot say and think", Meloni said in a statement.

On Monday 10 June, Italy's president Sergio Mattarella laid a wreath at the Rome memorial to Matteotti who he hailed as a "martyr of democracy".

Matteotti's abduction and "cruel, barbaric killing, was an attack on parliament and on the freedom of all Italians and represented a watershed in national history", the president said, adding: "The Republic bows to the memory of Giacomo Matteotti".

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