di Marcello Mento
Rome, April 26 - Rightist militants made Fascist salutes at Friday's funeral of a popular neo-Fascist veteran of Roman politics, Teodoro Buontempo. Rome Mayor Gianni Alemanno of Silvio Berlusconi's People of Freedom (PdL) party and former PdL Senate caucus leader Maurizio Gasparri were among the right-wing leaders attending the Mass for Buontemp, nicknamed 'Er Pecora' (The Goat) in Roman dialect for his earthy humour and ability to connect with the common people. Both PdL heavyweights are former members of the now-defunct Italian Social Movement (MSI), the neo-Fascist party that grew out of Benito Mussolini's puppet Italian Social Republic (RSI) at the end of WWII. Alemanno, sometimes touted as a future PdL leader, gave Buontempo the honour of lying in state at the Campidoglio (Capitol), seat of ancient and modern Roman government. Pier Ferdinando Casini, leader of a small Centrist Catholic party, was also present among an estimated 1,000 people in Rome's central Piazza Venezia, where Mussolini used to mesmerise throngs from the balcony of Palazzo Venezia. Fascist salutes are illegal in Italy but often tolerated. Rightist militants also unfurled banners with neo-Fascist symbols on and threatened journalists and cameramen.