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Italy's top court clarifies fascist salute ruling

Cassation court clarifies reports about fascist salute after January ruling.

Italy's top court on Wednesday said that a fascist salute may be a crime even if performed during a commemorative event, in contrast to reports following a ruling earlier this year.

The Cassation Court has clarified that a number of factors must be considered when evaluating whether the stiff-armed salute constitutes a crime, and that making the so-called saluto romano during a commemoration does not automatically "neutralise" the offence, state broadcaster RAI News reports.

These factors include the setting and its "symbolic value" and the degree to which the location it is linked - or not - to the Fascist era, the number of participants, the "insistent repitition" of the gesture and the "danger of emulation".

The court's clarifation comes after it ruled in January that the fascist salute could be considered a crime only "under certain conditions", including if performed in circumstances that risk a "concrete danger" of reviving the banned Fascist party.

In such cases, the court ruled that judges can apply the 1952 Scelba Law against "apology for fascism" and attempting to restore Mussolini's Fascist party.

The court ruled that the fascist salute could also be considered a crime if it posed a risk to public order under the 1993 Mancino Law which permits the prosecution of those involved in racial, ethnic and religious discrimination and the incitement of hate crime.

In making its ruling, the court ordered a second appeals trial in the case of eight neo-fascist militants who made the salute during a 2016 event in Milan to commemorate the 1975 killing of fellow militant Sergio Ramelli.

The January ruling was initially interpreted as meaning that the salute is not a criminal offence if performed at events such as a rally in Rome in January to commemorate the killing of three neo-fascist youths in the Italian capital in 1978.

The Acca Larenzia event takes place every January however this year it sparked outrage after viral video footage of hundreds of men performing the fascist salute made news headlines around the world.

The event took place outside the former headquarters of the neo-fascist Movimento Sociale Italiano (MSI), a percursor to the right-wing Fratelli d'Italia party led by Italy's prime minister Giorgia Meloni.

Photo Il Fatto Quotidiano

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