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Italian police seize 800kg missile and Nazi memorabilia during probe into far-right groups

Three people were arrested following the discovery.

Anti-terrorist police with an air-to-air missile seized during an operation in Turin
Anti-terrorist police with an air-to-air missile seized during an operation in Turin
Image: Tino Romano/AP

POLICE IN ITALY have seized an air-to-air missile, machine guns and rocket launchers during raids sparked by an investigation into far-right extremist groups.

Three people were arrested following the discovery, including 50 year-old Fabio Del Bergiolo, a former candidate for the neo-fascist Forza Nuova party, whose home was found to contain a huge stash of arms as well as neo-Nazi propaganda and memorabilia.

“During the operation, an air-to-air missile in perfect working order and used by the Qatari army was seized,” police said of the 800 kilogramme Matra missile.

They also found automatic assault rifles that they described as “latest generation” among the cache.

“This is a significant seizure, with few precedents in Italy,” said Turin police commissioner Giuseppe De Matteis.

The missile, 3.54 metres long, was made in France and Del Bergiolo had been hoping to sell it for €470,000, according to Italian media reports.

The missile was “without explosive charge, but re-armable by people specialised in the field”, police said, adding that they do not believe there was an active plot to use the weapons.

The other arrests were a Swiss and an Italian accused of holding and marketing the missile, which was found by police at a warehouse near the small Rivanazzano Terme airport in the Pavia province.

The raids were the result of a police probe into Italian extremists known to have joined pro-Russian rebels fighting in Ukraine.

Messages intercepted by the police led them to investigate Del Bergiolo, who had sent photographs of the missile for sale on Whatsapp.

They put him under surveillance before raiding his home and finding a stash of weapons including a Scorpion machine gun, 306 firearm parts and 20 bayonets.

His collection included street signs from the Nazi era, including one reading “Adolf-Hitler Platz”.

The Forza Nuova party has since released a statement distancing itself from Del Bergiolo.

With reporting from - © AFP 2019.

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