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Italian anarchists protest at Rome landmark ahead of Cospito ruling

41-bis protest slammed by government ministers.

Supporters of jailed Italian anarchist Alfredo Cospito staged a protest at Rome's Vittoriano monument on Thursday, setting off smoke bombs and unfurling a banner that read "Italy Tortures. With Alfredo. No to 41-bis".

Cospito, 55, has been on hunger strike for more than four months in protest against his harsh 41-bis prison regime, which is normally reserved for mafia bosses, and is currently in hospital in Milan.

Police detained four protesters at the central Rome landmark which is also known as the Altare della Patria and contains the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

The incident has also raised serious security questions at the site which is used for solemn state ceremonies.

Rome police have increased security measures outside Rome's Court of Cassation on Friday pending a ruling on an appeal to end the 41-bis regime for Cospito after the move was rejected by justice minister Carlo Nordio in early February, reports state broadcaster RAI News.

In recent weeks there have been several violent protests in Rome in support of the campaign by Cospito who is the leader of the Informal Anarchists Federation (FAI) and is serving 30 years for terror attacks.

Thursday afternoon's blitz at the Vittoriano was widely condemned by senior figures in the right-wing coalition of prime minister Giorgia Meloni.

"Demonstrating one's thoughts and also one's dissent is a legitimate right" - said the senate president Ignazio La Russa - "but doing it in this way at the Altare della Patria, a monument symbol of national unity and which honours those who sacrificed their life for our nation is a provocation and an unacceptable outrage".

Culture minister Gennaro Sangiuliano on Twitter described the incident as a "desecration" that constitutes "a very serious act, an offense to a place that is a symbol of national identity."

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