Tens of thousands of people have taken part in a march against the expansion of a US military base in Italy placing a new strain on relations between the two countries. The protest in Vicenza has also raised internal tensions. Centre-left Prime Minister Romano Prodi was heavily criticised by some of his own supporters for approving the enlargement of the American site.
The demonstration involved many who voted for the ruling coalition. Prodi had appealed for the protest to be peaceful. It took place under heavy security. The rally has further undermined US-Italian relations already strained by an Italian court’s decision this week to order the trial of a number of CIA agents. They have been charged in connection with the abduction of a Muslim cleric suspected by US intelligence of links to terrorism. Washington is not expected to hand the agents over to Italian authorities.