Twitter removes rape video posted by Italy far-right leader Meloni

Italy's far-right leader Giorgia Meloni tweeted the blurred video, saying she could not remain silent in the face of "this atrocious episode of sexual violence". PHOTO: AFP

ROME (REUTERS) - Twitter removed on Tuesday (Aug 23) a video of a Ukrainian woman being raped by a migrant in an Italian city that was posted by far-right leader Giorgia Meloni, who is leading the race to become Italy's next prime minister.

Ms Meloni tweeted the blurred video, which was originally published on a newspaper website, late on Sunday, saying she could not remain silent in the face of "this atrocious episode of sexual violence".

The post was widely condemned by Ms Meloni's political rivals and human rights activists, who accused her of adding to the victim's misery by putting out the video without her consent.

On Tuesday morning, the post was removed and replaced with a comment from Twitter, which said: "This Tweet violated the Twitter Rules."

There was no immediate response from Ms Meloni.

On Monday, Ms Meloni said on Twitter that she had published the video "to express solidarity with the victim, to condemn what happened and obviously to demand justice".

Local authorities in the northern city of Piacenza say the 55-year-old Ukrainian woman was assaulted on a pavement early on Sunday by an asylum seeker from Guinea.

Police have confirmed his arrest and said the man was being detained as the investigation continued.

The incident was videoed by someone in a flat overlooking the street. The images subsequently posted online were blurred, making it impossible to identify the victim, but her cries could be clearly heard on the audio.

The Italian authorities said they were looking into how the video was released.

"The dissemination in the media of videos depicting the criminal episode is being thoroughly investigated," Piacenza prosecutor Grazia Pradella said.

The state watchdog tasked with protection of personal data said it was also looking into "possible responsibilities on the part of the persons who, for various reasons and for different purposes, have (posted) it".

Ms Meloni and her rightist allies top the polls ahead of a Sept 25 national election and are widely expected to win power.

Her own Brothers of Italy party looks set to take the most seats in Parliament, putting her in pole position to become Italy's first female prime minister.

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