Rome

Migrant's pickaxe rampage sparks storm

Forza Nuova in 'Immigration Kills' Web campaign

Migrant's pickaxe rampage sparks storm

(By Denis Greenan). Rome, May 13 - A Ghanaian migrant's pickaxe killing spree in Milan has sparked a storm in Italy amid proposals from Italy's first black minister to change immigration laws. Mada 'Adam' Kabobo, an undocumented immigrant, killed two men and injured three others in an hour-long string of attacks in Milan Saturday before being stopped by police. Kabobo reportedly suffered from mental problems and told police "I never sleep". The 21-year-old came to Italy illegally in 2011 and was later served an expulsion order but this was suspended pending his appeal. According to data published by the Italian media Monday, only one in four expulsion orders are actually carried out under a so-called 'security package' sponsored by the anti-immigrant Northern League in 2009. From July 2009 to the end of 2010, La Repubblica daily said, there were only 12 convictions for the crime of illegal immigration put on the books by the Northern League 11 years ago. The League and others on the right complain that the law is not being applied while migrant lobbies and the centre-left complain that the government is however able to hold migrants for up to 18 months, depriving them of civil rights, in new identification and expulsion centres (CIEs) which replaced processing centres three years ago. There have been several riots by detained migrants demanding rights and protesting degraded conditions. International observers have condemned the CIEs and on Monday an Italian NGO, Doctors for Human Rights, called for them to be closed because "they are inadequate, offend human dignity and do not combat illegal immigration". In an interview with La Repubblica Monday, Northern League leader and former interior minister Roberto Maroni said Congo-born Integration Minister Cecile Kyenge had been "wrong" to talk about repealing the law, however. He argued that this would send the wrong message to migrants and people traffickers and spark a fresh wave of arrivals from North Africa. Maroni said Kyenge's assertion that children born to legal immigrants in Italy should be granted citizenship rights would also swell the flow, which had eased after war and turmoil in Libya and Morocco. However, he said Kyenge's stances "should not in any way be linked" to Saturday's spree. Members of the Northern League demonstrated in Milan Sunday, claiming that Kabobo's actions were linked to a wider softening of controls on migrants. But local residents and the victims' relatives slammed the League for "exploiting an isolated case". On Monday the far-right Forza Nuova party launched an Internet campaign called 'Immigration Kills', referring to Kabobo and the recent rape and murder of a young woman by a Senegalese migrant in Livorno. The campaign warned against Kyenge's proposed reforms. The recent acts "nail proponents of immigration reform to their responsibilities...and provide dramatic reasons against its applicability," the group said on its site. Ablaye Ndoye, a Senegalese national, was arrested on May 3 for suspicion of raping and murdering 19-year-old Ilaria Leone, found strangled to death outside the port city of Livorno. Kyenge has received a spate of racist insults since her appointment. "Shoot Minister Kyenge, not Carabinieri" and "Minister Kyenge, f**k off" were found daubed on walls in the Tuscan city of Pistoia, signed by Forza Nuova supporters. The first taunt referred to a man who shot two Carabinieri outside the premier's office while Democratic Party (PD) deputy head Enrico Letta's new left-right government was being sworn in nearby. On Thursday Forza Nuova party hung a banner outside the PD offices in the Marche city of Macerata that read: "Kyenge go back to Congo". Italian prosecutors have opened a probe into online abuse directed at PD member Kyenge, a doctor who was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo. As well as anonymous attacks on the Internet, the 48-year-old Kyenge was also targeted by a senior member of the League who has been prominent in anti-migrant protests. League MEP Mario Borghezio called Letta's new executive a "bonga bonga government" and claimed Kyenge would seek to "impose her tribal traditions from the Congo". An online petition has been launched calling for Borghezio to be ousted from the European Parliament. The abuse against Kyenge has prompted debate about whether Italy is a racist country. AC Milan's Ghanaian-Italian striker Mario Balotelli has said he is glad to be one of the public faces of Kyenge's efforts. Italy striker Balotelli, who became Italian on his 18th birthday under the current law, was subjected to his latest volley of racist taunts during Sunday's 0-0 draw against AS Roma.

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