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Debunked: No, Italy does not want to charge Bill Gates with crimes against humanity

The claim has its origins in a speech made by Sara Cunial, a member of the Italian Parliament.

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A FACEBOOK POST circulated in recent days claims that Italy wants to charge Microsoft founder Bill Gates with crimes against humanity. 

Gates, one of the world’s wealthiest people, has made headlines in recent months as part of his foundation’s efforts to find a vaccine for Covid-19. 

This specific claim – “Italy wants to charge Gates with crimes against humanity” – has its origins in a speech made by Sara Cunial, a member of the Italian Parliament.

On 14 May during a parliamentary session, Cunial, once a member of Italy’s right-wing Five Star Movement, addressed the Italian parliament and Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte. 

Addressing Conte, Cunial said: “Next time you receive a phone call from the ‘philanthropist’ Bill Gates, forward it directly to the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity.” 

During her speech, Cunial also claimed that Gates had used vaccines to sterilise millions of women in Africa and criticised his connections to telecommunications companies behind the adoption of 5G in the United States. She also claimed Gates had once said only genocide could save the world. 

Source: Canale Italia/YouTube

Towards the end of her 14 May speech in which she called for Gates to be charged with crimes against humanity, Cunial is interrupted and heckled in the chamber, suggesting there is not widespread support among Italian parliamentarians for her call. 

Cunial is just one MP and, therefore, her speech does not represent the Italian government’s position. 

A controversial figure in Italy, Cunial was expelled from the Five Star Movement in 2019 after accusing the party of being “agri-mafias”. Before that, in 2018, she was suspended from the party after comparing vaccines to “genocide”. She is now an independent. 

In fact, the Facebook claim appears to stem solely from Cunial’s speech and nowhere else. No other member of Italy’s parliament has called for any such action against Gates in recent weeks. 

This claim is false. Italy nor its Parliament wants to charge Bill Gates with crimes against humanity. 

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There is a lot of false news and scaremongering being spread in Ireland at the moment about coronavirus. Here are some practical ways for you to assess whether the messages that you’re seeing – especially on WhatsApp – are true or not. 

STOP, THINK AND CHECK 

Look at where it’s coming from. Is it someone you know? Do they have a source for the information (e.g. the HSE website) or are they just saying that the information comes from someone they know? A lot of the false news being spread right now is from people claiming that messages from ‘a friend’ of theirs. Have a look yourself – do a quick Google search and see if the information is being reported elsewhere. 

Secondly, get the whole story, not just a headline. A lot of these messages have got vague information (“all the doctors at this hospital are panicking”) and don’t mention specific details. This is often – but not always a sign – that it may not be accurate. 

Finally, see how you feel after reading it. A lot of these false messages are designed to make people feel panicked. They’re deliberately manipulating your feelings to make you more likely to share it. If you feel panicked after reading something, check it out and see if it really is true.

TheJournal.ie’s FactCheck is a signatory to the International Fact-Checking Network’s Code of Principles. You can read it here. For information on how FactCheck works, what the verdicts mean, and how you can take part, check out our Reader’s Guide here. You can read about the team of editors and reporters who work on the factchecks here

Have you gotten a message on WhatsApp or Facebook or Twitter about coronavirus that you’re not sure about and want us to check it out? Message or mail us and we’ll look into debunking it. WhatsApp: 085 221 4696 or Email: answers@thejournal.ie. 

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