A far-right MEP from the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party has shared insults and joy at the death of David Sassoli, according to leaked text messages obtained by broadcaster ARD.
European Parliament President Sassoli died on Tuesday at the age of 65, sparking sympathy from MEPs and EU leaders. But the AfD has taken a different line, at least privately.
While an official party statement said Sassoli “died far too soon” – that was a different story in the leaked messages.
“Finally, that dirty pig is gone,” Nicolaus Fest, an AfD MEP, wrote in conversation with other members of his faction. “An anti-democrat, a shame for any parliamentary idea.”
After his comments were made public, Fest posted to Facebook to try to justify his comments, but not to apologize. Sassoli’s painted image in statements and obituaries was “incomplete,” Fest claimed. He added that it was “regrettable” that the messages were leaked.
AfD party leader Jörg Meuthen distanced himself from Fest’s statements. “Such a statement about a colleague who has just died from a serious illness is disturbing, deeply repulsive and inexcusable,” Meuthen told ARD.
The reaction from senior MEPs was swift.
Katarina Barley, Deputy Speaker of Parliament and member of the German Social Democrats, said ARD Fest’s comments were “characteristic of their author and of that contempt for humanity that Sassoli has always strongly opposed”.
Barley told POLITICO: “One of the many reasons David Sassoli was respected in all parties was that he did not tolerate hate speech in the European Parliament. Mr. Fest’s statement is despicable and an example of the hatred and indecency that David has always strongly opposed. The fact that Mr. Fest refuses to apologize for his indecent comments speaks for itself.