The University of Siena in Italy has condemned a number of pro-Nazi tweets found on the account of one of its staff.
Tweets dating back to 2017, some featuring Nazi insignia, were posted by an account linked to Professor Emanuele Castrucci, who teaches Philosophy of Law and Public Policy at the university.
One tweet, including an image of Adolf Hitler, is captioned “they told you that I was a monster not to let you know that I fought against the real monsters that today govern you by dominating the world.”
Another post reads that "Hitler, even though he certainly wasn't a saint ... was defending the entire European civilisation".
On Monday, the rector of the University of Siena, Francesco Frati, issued a statement condemning the “shameful” posts, stating that they "offend the sensitivity of the entire University”.
“I have already given a mandate to the offices to activate measures appropriate to the seriousness of the case."
The Director of the Law Department at the University of Siena added that the content of the tweets is “unacceptable."
Earlier, Frati had said the tweets were expressed in a "personal capacity" and that the professor "takes responsibility for it."
This initial response was severely criticised on social media, with the President of the Jewish Community of Rome, Ruth Dureghello, calling for Castrucci to be immediately removed.
The Italian Minister for Education, Lorenzo Fioramonti, said that the Rector had confirmed to him that immediate action would be taken against Professor Castrucci and added that pro-Nazi tweets should “never be joked about."
'Those who say such things cannot teach anyone anything'
Enrico Rossi, the President of the Region of Tuscany, also tweeted that he had sent the regional attorney to denounce the tweets of Castrucci, "until now a professor at the University of Siena."
Rossi added that his apologia of fascism was especially serious because he was "a citizen who is entrusted with public functions."
Castrucci’s tweets were widely condemned by other Italian politicians elsewhere on social media, with the ruling anti-establishment 5-Star Movement saying that “those who say such things cannot teach anyone anything."
Mara Carfagna of Silvio Berlusconi's centre-right opposition Forza Italia party said it was a "disgusting case" and there should be "universal condemnation".
Italy's recent problem with fascism
Claudio Borghi Aquilini, the Lega member of the Italian Republic in Tuscany, has also been criticised for previously engaging with Professor Castrucci on Twitter.
He responded by distancing himself from Castrucci's opinions, saying he had previously met him for coffee “not knowing what he thinks about Hitler."
Castrucci has reportedly appealed for the right of freedom of expression, and said that his opinions were “wholly personal” and “expressed outside of the activity of teaching".
His explanation was given to his head of department at the University of Siena when he was summoned to a meeting on Monday.
The inciteful apology of fascism and Nazism is against Italy’s constitution.
Castrucci's pro-Nazi tweets were discovered just days after Italian police carried out a number of raids as part of an investigation into a plot to set up a new Nazi party.
Twitter’s policy against hateful conduct
Hateful imagery, such as the Nazi swastika, violates Twitter’s policy on hateful conduct and is usually marked on the platform as ‘sensitive media’.
Euronews reached out to Twitter for a statement on Professor Castrucci’s profile and tweets.
In response, a spokesperson said that "improving the health of the public conversation is Twitter’s number one priority".
"While we welcome people to express themselves on our service, we take strong enforcement action when behaviour crosses the line and violates our policies."
Since contacting Twitter, at least one of Professor's Castrucci's tweet showing a picture of Adolf Hitler has been removed by the social media giant.
Twitter has previously stated that sanctions for breach of their hateful conduct policy are assessed on factors including “the severity of the violation and an individual’s previous record of rule violations”.
Accounts which engage “primarily in abusive behaviour” or are deemed to have “shared a violent threat” may be permanently suspended upon review.