A video of a Ukrainian woman being raped by a migrant in Italy has been removed from Twitter after it was shared on the social media platform by prime ministerial candidate Giorgia Meloni.
The far-right leader, who is leading the race to become Italy‘s next prime minister, tweeted the blurred video late on Sunday saying she could not remain silent in the face of “this atrocious episode of sexual violence”.
Ms Meloni explained on Twitter that she shared the clip, which was originally published on a newspaper website, in order “to express solidarity with the victim, to condemn what happened and obviously to demand justice”.
However, she was criticised by her political rivals and human rights activists, who accused her of adding to the victim’s misery by sharing the video without her consent.
The post was taken down by Twitter on Tuesday morning, and there was no immediate response from Ms Meloni.
It was taken in the northern city of Piacenza, and local authorities said the 55-year-old woman was assaulted on a pavement early on Sunday by an asylum seeker from Guinea.
Police confirmed the man was arrested and said he has been detained as the investigation continued.
The video was taken by someone in a flat overlooking the street and images were subsequently blurred before they were posted online, making it impossible to identify the victim, but her cries could be heard in the audio.
Italian authorities said they are 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.
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The state watchdog tasked with the 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 25 September national election and are widely expected to win power.
Her 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.