Italian police arrested a 29-year-old supporter of Forza Nuova, a right-wing party, on charges that he sent pig heads by post to three Jewish centers in Rome last week, Italian media reported Saturday.
The arrest was a culmination of a week-long investigation. He is being charged with incitement of racial hatred. The police are currently looking into whether he had accomplices.
The police suspect that the man, who signed the packages Giovanni Preziosi, a minister in Benito Mussolini's government, was attempting to set up an anti-Semitic organization. The police searched the suspect's home and discovered a number of racist articles including an article by Preziosi titled "Judaism, Bolshevism, Plutocracy and Free Masons."
The man sent three swine heads, which he apparently purchased at a butcher shop, to Rome's Great Synagogue, the Israeli embassy and a museum holding an exhibit of Jewish culture.
Rome Mayor Ignazio Marino harshly condemned the act and said an attack on Rome's Jews is an attack on the city itself. He was echoed by Nicola Zingaretti, president of the province of Lazio, where Rome is located. "This is a lowly act of cowards that hurts all Romans on the eve of the Holocaust Memorial Day," he said. Italian President Giorgio Napolitano called the incident "a miserable provocation."
Renzo Gattegna and Ricardo Pacifici, leaders of the Italian Jewish community, thanked the police for dealing with the matter efficiently and swiftly. "Jewish Italians know that they aren't alone and that they can share their values of peace, progress and coexistence with the civil society and its institutions," President of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities Gattegna said.