World News

Italian judge orders seizure of neo-fascist CasaPound headquarters

ROME (Reuters) - An Italian judge ordered police to seize the headquarters of a far-right group in central Rome, authorities said on Thursday in a move hailed as a victory by the city’s mayor Virgina Raggi from the anti-establishment 5 Star Movement.

Successive administrations have tried for years to evacuate the building occupied by CasaPound, a group that espouses a neo-fascist ideology and that has gained increasing visibility across Italy during the economic downturn of recent years.

The order to seize the building, issued on the 76th anniversary of Rome’s liberation from Nazi occupation by U.S. troops in World War Two, has not yet been carried out but Raggi said it represented a symbolic victory.

“Today we celebrate the 76th anniversary of the liberation of Rome from nazi-fascist occupation,” she wrote on Facebook, thanking magistrates for issuing the order.

The seizure order is based on an investigation into the rightist group on charges of illegal occupation of property, the police said in a statement.

A spokesman from CasaPound was not immediately available for comment.

CasaPound, which takes its name from Ezra Pound, the modernist American poet who supported Italy’s wartime fascist leader Benito Mussolini, campaigns against migrants and what it sees as promoters of globalisation.

It also looks to build support in poor neighbourhoods through food distribution and other forms of assistance.

More than a dozen families live in the six-floor block, which has been occupied by far right activists since 2003 and whose inside walls are bedecked with anti-capitalist posters and the flag of Mussolini’s National Fascist party.

A police statement said procedures for implementing the order were “ongoing” and it was not immediately clear when the group members would effectively be forced to leave.

Raggi’s 2016 victory was seen as a breaktrough for the 5-Star party, however her rule has been dogged by myriad problems, including with transport and garbage collection, and she has not said if she will seek reelection in 2021.

Reporting by Angelo Amante; Editing by Frances Kerry