Missile seized from Italian neo-Nazi gang
Police in northern Italy have detained three men, including one linked to an extremist political party, after uncovering automatic weapons, an air-to-air missile and Nazi iconography in raids in several cities.
The Italian media said the raids were part of an investigation into Italian extreme-right help for the Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine.
Police said the discoveries led from a probe into Italians who joined Russia’s invasion of eastern Ukraine.
Turin police said one of the men, Fabio Del Bergiolo, ran unsuccessfully as a senatorial candidate for the neo-fascist Forza Nuova party in 2001. Police searched his home in Gallarate and found nine assault weapons, nearly 30 hunting rifles, pistols, bayonets, ammunition and Nazi plaques.
Two other men were detained after police found a French-made missile in an airport hangar that they apparently were seeking to sell.
As well as the Matra missile, the raid uncovered a stash of contemporary weapons, including “latest generation” automatic rifles and rocket launchers.
The Italian media named those arrested as Del Bergiolo, 50, an Italian ex-customs officer and Forza Nuova activist, Swiss Alessandro Monti, 42, and Italian Fabio Bernardi, 51.
Some of the weapons were reportedly kept under the bed where Bergiolo slept.
The missile is reported to be in good condition and ready for combat.
The French-made missile is purportedly worth over €600,000 and had labels from the Qatari army.
The Turin specialist police, the Digos, which deals largely with terrorism and organised crime, led the operations, assisted by officers in Milan, Varese, Forli and Novara.
“We have some idea about what the seized equipment could be used for, but will not speculate,” Turin police commissioner Giuseppe De Matteis told the media.
There was nothing to lead us to suspect an active plot to use the weapons, said counter-terrorism officer Eugenio Spina.
Earlier this month a court in Genoa jailed three men for fighting with Russian-backed separatists who seized large areas of Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
Two of them, Italian Antonio Cataldo and Albanian-born Olsi Krutani, were given terms of two years and eight months. The third, the Moldovan Vladimir Vrbitchii, was jailed for 16 months.
More than 10,000 people have died in eastern Ukraine since April 2014. Skirmishes continue, but the frontline has moved little for more than a year.
The neo-Nazi weaponry. Picture credit: YouTube