Berlusconi back: no immigrants, yes nukes

In a massive sweep of shantytowns in urban areas across the country, Italian police arrested nearly 400 undocumented immigrants in Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi‘s first week back in power. 118 were immediately expelled, and many others held to face immigration, drug and other charges. Most of the detained were from Romania and North Africa. Anti-crime director Francesco Gratteri said the operation was aimed at fighting crime “linked to illegal immigration.”

Crime blamed on “illegal” migrants was a central issue in the campaign for the April elections after a series of violent crimes were blamed on Romanian immigrants, notably from the Roma ethnic group. “The anti-immigrant sweep was a positive thing, because that’s what people want,” said Umberto Bossi, the new government’s minister of institutional reforms. “People ask us for safety and we must give it to them.” (IHT, AFP, May 15)

While the Berlusconi government frets about ethnic contamination, it is quite sanguine about nuclear contamination. Berlusconi has wasted no time in announcing his intention to overturn the 1987 referendum that banned nuclear power generation in Italy. “Nuclear power, with all the necessary precautions, is today an indispensable option not just for guaranteeing the energy needed for future development but for safeguarding the environment we live in,” he told Italy’s upper house of parliament. (Thomson Financial, May 15) Italy has had four operating nuclear power reactors but shut the last two down following the referendum in the wake of the Chernobyl accident. A final plant at Montalto di Castro was left uncompleted. (World Nuclear Association, January 2008)

See our last posts on Italy, the nuclear threat and the politics of immigration in Europe.

  1. Berlusconi to testify in CIA trial?
    Ooh, we hope, we hope, we hope. From Middle East Online via Alternet, May 16:

    MILAN – Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and his predecessor Romano Prodi may testify in the Milan trial of 26 CIA agents accused of kidnapping an Egyptian imam, a judge decided Wednesday.

    Judge Oscar Magi accepted defense lawyers’ arguments that Prodi and Berlusconi should be called in the trial of the agents being judged in absentia.

    Seven Italians, including the former head of military intelligence General Nicolo Pollari, are also on trial in the case.

    Secret service heads and ministers of defense under Prodi, who was premier between 2006 and 2008, and in Berlusconi’s previous government from 2001-2006 may testify, the judge ruled.

    The defendants are on trial in the northern city for the February 2003 kidnapping of Osama Mustafa Hassan, better known as Abu Omar.

    See our last posts on the detainment/torture scandal and the Abu Omar case.