In Brief

Italian race row senator blames voodoo curse

A Congolese curse has caused death, injury and an encounter with a rare snake, says right-wing senator accused of racism

An Italian senator who labelled Italy's first black minister an orang-utan says a curse put on him by the minister's father has led to two broken fingers, a spate of operations, his mother's death and an encounter with a rare breed of snake.

Roberto Calderoli, a senator for the right-wing Northern League, says that Cécile Kyenge's Congolese father cast the voodoo curse in revenge, The Times reports. In the past year, Calderoni claims that he has had six operations and has broken two fingers and two vertebrae. He also ascribes his mother's death to voodoo, and said that his discovery of a two metre-long snake in his home this year was also due to the "macumba" curse.

Calderoli said he is now considering asking the Pope to recommend an exorcist. "I don't know if I should put an advert in the paper or call [Pope Francis] directly," he tweeted, "but I must absolutely find an exorcist."

The senator caused outrage last year when he said at a public rally that Kyenge reminded him of an orang-utan. He now faces prosecution for his remarks.

Kyenge's father denied that he had placed any kind of curse on Calderoli, the Daily Telegraph reports.

"We are Christians like him, we have forgiven him and our prayer was only meant to encourage him to make statements befitting his role," he said.

Cécile Kyenge arrived in Italy in 1983 and is an Italian citizen. She is now a European MP.

"I ask myself what religion Mr Calderoli practises," she said. "I am Catholic and therefore do not believe in many other practises and rites and I don't agree with his statements, which I consider irreligious."

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