A member of the far-right Italian League party was placed under house arrest on Wednesday after he shot dead a Moroccan immigrant following an altercation in a bar.
Massimo Adriatici, a League adviser in the northern town of Voghera, killed the 39-year-old man on Tuesday evening. Police named the deceased migrant Youns El Boussetaoui and said they were investigating the shooting.
The case sparked political fury, with League leader Matteo Salvini coming to the defense of Adriatici, a former police officer with a firearms license, while opponents questioned why he was wearing a gun in a public place.
Local media said the feud broke out between the two men at a bar in central Voghera. Adriatici reportedly said the gunshot exploded after El Boussetaoui pushed him to the ground as he tried to call the police.
Salvini, a former interior minister whose party adopted an anti-migrant platform, said Adriatici was well respected in the local community.
“The victim of an assault, he responded and accidentally fired a shot,” Salvini said in a video posted to social media, adding that Adriatici had probably acted in self-defense, suggesting that El Boussetaoui had a criminal record.
Political opponents accused the leader of the League of drawing hasty conclusions before the police completed their investigation.
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“Everyone, without exception, must condemn the logic of the Wild West and do-it-yourself justice,” said Vinicio Peluffo, leader of the center-left Democratic Party in the northern Lombardy region.
“If the League believes that carrying weapons brings security, then it is really worrying, because it only brings bloodshed and certainly not public order,” he said.
Like other countries in the European Union, Italy has strict laws regulating both the possession and use of firearms, and gunshot deaths are rare. Adriatici, who was known locally as “the sheriff”, was in charge of the security portfolio in the city council.