ROME: Italy’s defence ministry has suspended a general and cut his pay for breaching army neutrality with a book that critics said insulted sexual and ethnic minorities, his lawyer said on Wednesday.

Roberto Vannacci, 55, had already been ousted last year from the management of the Military Geographical Institute, and moved to an essentially administrative role as chief of staff of the operational land forces command.

He has now been suspended from that position for 11 months, with the resulting “halving of his salary”, his lawyer Giorgio Carta said. The announcement comes as Vannacci is mulling standing for European Parliament elections in June under the banner of the far-right League party of Italy’s deputy prime minister, Matteo Salvini.

Salvini has defended the general, who served in Afghanistan and Iraq, saying the investigations and actions against him were “ridiculous”.

“How scared are they of the general? Long live freedom of thought and speech, long live the armed forces and the police,” he wrote on X on Wednesday.

Published in Dawn, February 29th, 2024

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