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Italian Northern League Party Proposes Tough Anti-Terrorism Measures

  • Sabina Castelfranco

Italian police patrol subway station in Milan
Italy's Northern League party has proposed tough anti-terrorism measures to be added to a security package being discussed by the Italian cabinet. The proposals followed the interior minister's presentation of a package to parliament, which the Northern League considers insufficient and too soft.

The Northern League wants tougher measures to be included in a new anti-terrorism package being discussed by the government. It considers the security measures presented by the Italian interior minister insufficient to cope with the new terrorism emergency.

Authorities in Italy believe the country is at high risk of a possible terror attack. Italy has received continuous threats by groups believed linked to Al-Qaeda. One recent message, posted on the Internet and considered reliable, gave Italy a one-month deadline to withdraw troops from Iraq or face the consequences.

The security measures presented to parliament by the interior minister last week include allowing authorities to detain suspects longer without charges, giving police greater investigative powers and incentives for those who help to bring down terrorist cells.

But the Northern League party would like to see other measures included such as DNA testing for all suspected terrorists. The proposals of the right-wing, anti-immigration party, which is part of the governing coalition in Italy, were presented Tuesday to its coalition partners.

After the meeting, Justice Minister Roberto Castelli, a member of the Northern League, appeared pleased with the discussions. He says he has received a positive response.

Mr. Castelli did not reveal details of his party's proposals, but news reports say the measures include forcibly obtaining saliva samples for DNA tests and expelling all people suspected of terrorist activities.

The Northern League also favors the creation of a police force devoted to fighting terrorism and the establishment of a "super-prosecutor" figure to coordinate terrorism investigations. This would be similar to the existing anti-Mafia prosecutors, which already exist in Italy.

The minister also confirmed the Northern League's position in favor suspending the European Union's open borders agreement. After France adopted the measure earlier this month, the Italian government said it would not follow its example.

The Italian government said instead it preferred to tighten security on its northern borders rather than temporarily suspend the borders agreement. Since the July 7 bombings in London, Italy has increased controls at airports, railway stations and other sensitive sites, across the country.

The opposition has called for the new anti-terrorism package to be passed as soon as possible because it says Italy cannot afford to procrastinate on this subject.

Renzo Lusetti, of one of the opposition parties says the risk is too high to procrastinate.

A cabinet meeting is scheduled for Friday to approve the anti-terror package. The new measures will then require parliament approval.

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