Lombardy governor gets police escort after threats in social media

Lombardy Governor Attilio Fontana got a police escort, ANSA reported on Wednesday. Prosecutors in Varese north of Milan decided on the escort after "the climate around the governor became incandescent", police said. Fontana became target of growing criticism about the handling of the coronavirus crisis.Two murals in Milan called him a "murderer" and he received threats on the Web.

Lombardy, Italy's richest and most populous region and the motor of its economy, is one of the worst affected areas of the world by the coronavirus, accounting for around half of the country's more than 32,000 dead. The regional government, controlled by opposition leader Matteo Salvini's anti-immigrant League party, has seen approval ratings plunge amid angry attacks on its response and on health sector reforms by previous League governments that many say left the region badly prepared to face the epidemic.

Fontana, a close Salvini ally, gave no details for the security escort but said the decision to assign one was not at his request but had been decided by the "relevant authorities". “Over recent days, there's been too much venom," he said in a statement. "Unfortunately, it's the result of lies told by certain political forces which have poisoned the atmosphere and stirred up this dangerous climate of hatred," the governor believes.

The decision to assign the escort, as Italy has begun to ease lockdown restrictions imposed almost three months ago, highlighted widespread public anger at the handling of both the health crisis and the lockdown measures.

"We've been collecting dozens and dozens of threats on social media. There are so many of them and they're part of this climate of hatred," Fontana's lawyer Jacopo Pensa was quoted as saying by business daily Il Sole 24 Ore.

Authorities said Education Minister Lucia Azzolina and Deputy Health Minister Pierpaolo Sileri, had also been assigned security details in recent days.

More on this subject: Coronavirus

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