Italy Right-Wing Guard Sparks Outrage

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ROME - Italy's interior minister is defending plans to allow citizen patrols amid outrage over a new right-wing guard that has put Fascist-like symbols on its uniforms.

The Italian National Guard was launched Saturday, sparking outcry from the center-left opposition that it evoked Italy's fascist-era paramilitary Black Shirts. The uniforms have an imperial eagle and black-rayed sun on them.

Guard founder Gaetano Saya says he is a patriotic, nationalistic Italian, not a Fascist. But he has denounced reported plans by Milan prosecutors to open an investigation into alleged violations of a law that makes it a crime to apologize for fascism.

Interior Minister Roberto Maroni said Monday that citizen groups are necessary and will be regulated.

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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