Prosecutors in Rome have launched a probe into calls for the assassination of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi posted on the Internet-based social network Facebook, news reports said today.
Perpetrators face charges of "aggravated threat," the daily La Repubblica reported.
"Let's kill Berlusconi" is the title of one Facebook account with some 16,000 members, set up in September 2008 then "left to its fate" until a member calling himself Companion Raul took it over earlier this month and said he did not want anyone dead, the report said.
Another Facebook account with around 300 members is entitled "Death to Berlusconi."
Despite Raul's insistence that he "does not want to incite anyone to break the law," members have posted messages on the page giving their full names, including one who wrote: "Silvio, you'll end up like Kennedy."
Several cabinet ministers slammed what they called a "hate campaign," and opposition leader Dario Franceschi called for the site to be shut down.
Italian police have also asked Facebook, based in Palo Alto, California, to deactivate public access to the site "Death to Berlusconi" without taking it off the network.
Legal authorities in Rome have asked Facebook to pass on the personal details of those making the threats.