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Italian army general Vannacci probed for inciting racial hatred

Vannucci also under investigation for alleged embezzlement and fraud from his time in Russia.

Rome prosecutors have placed Italian army general Roberto Vannacci under investigation for inciting racial hatred in his controversial bestselling book Il mondo al contrario.

The probe was launched following complaints from civil rights associations and the military union about the contents of the book in which the former paratrooper commander claimed that gays "are not normal", reports Corriere della Sera newspaper.

Vannacci's self-published book, a surprise bestseller in Italy, contained disparaging comments against LGBT+ people, migrants, minorities, feminists and environmentalists.

Following the book's publication last summer, Vannacci, 55, was dismissed as head of Italy's Military Geographical Institute by defence minister Guido Crosetto who said the general's "personal ramblings" had discredited the nation's armed forces.

News of the incitement to racial hatred probe comes two days after the military prosecutor's office placed Vannacci under investigation for suspected embezzlement and fraud during his time as military attaché at the Italian embassy in Moscow, where he served from February 2021 until May 2022.

The probe was launched after an internal defence ministry report raised concerns about "anomalies" in relation to allegedly bogus expenses claimed by Vannacci for events that never took place, among other payments, Corriere della Sera reported on Saturday.

Matteo Salvini, Italy's deputy premier and leader of the right-wing Lega, subsequently reiterated his esteem for Vannacci who he is hoping will run as a candidate for the party in the upcoming European elections.

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