In Brief

Rome's Jewish leader 'locked in Auschwitz' on 70th anniversary

Riccardo Pacifici questioned by police after setting off alarm as he tried to escape former death camp

An Italian Jewish leader, whose grandparents were murdered in Auschwitz, says he was trapped in the former Nazi death camp on Holocaust Memorial Day.

Riccardo Pacifici, the head of Rome's Jewish community, and an Italian TV crew found themselves locked in Auschwitz after filming a television programme about the infamous concentration camp.

The group had been given permission to film live from the site, near Krakow, on Tuesday, the 70th anniversary of the camp's liberation.

But at around 11pm, amid freezing temperatures, the guards who were meant to let them out had not arrived and they realised they were locked in, said Fabio Perugia, Rome's Jewish community spokesman, who was with Pacifici.

When nobody responded to their calls of help, they climbed out through a window, setting off a security alarm, reports Israeli news website Haaretz.

"The security guard arrived indeed, but instead of letting us go, they kept us there. For hours, and hours and hours. They started to interrogate us and they treated us like real criminals," said Perugia.

Polish police rushed to the scene and detained the group for questioning at a local police station.

It was not until Italian diplomatic authorities intervened that the police allowed the group to leave and return to Rome.

On Twitter, Pacifici described their detainment as a "disgrace" and thanked Pietro Grasso, Italy's acting president, for a "kind" phone call following his bad experience.

He told his followers: "We were not afraid but we were stunned by this farce, in which even the Polish police don't know what to do."

He later told Italian newspaper La Stampa: "For me, I have lost part of my family here. My grandparents died here. It was shocking."

A spokesman for the Auschwitz museum claimed that the crew had permission to film until 11.30pm and had broken into the visitor centre after finishing their filming early. He told CNN the group then refused to show their ID documents to the security guards, which is why the police were called.

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