[Ed. – Funny. But not. I mean, Venice, for crying out loud?]
Italian police on Wednesday arrested 24 people involved in a campaign to demand independence for Venice and its surrounding region and seized a tractor that they said the activists had tried to convert into a sort of tank.
The surprise arrests came just two weeks after activists held an online vote calling for the Veneto region, which encompasses the lagoon city, to break away from the rest of Italy and declare itself the “Repubblica Veneta”.
The authorities accused the 24 separatists of being involved in “terrorism”, “fabrication of weapons of war” and “subversion of the democratic order”.
The activists were part of a “secessionist group that was planning various initiatives, some of them violent, aimed at pushing for the independence of Veneto and other parts of the national territory of the Italian State,” the paramilitary Carabinieri said.
The activists were allegedly planning to use the “tank”, which was armed with a makeshift cannon, to stage a protest in Venice’s St Mark’s Square, 17 years after a similar stunt in which Veneto separatists drove a home-made armoured car into the famous square.
Police claim the makeshift tank was in good working order and was capable of firing projectiles from its barrel.