(VELINO) Roma, 13 Mar - This year the European Day of theRighteous, which pays tribute to everyone who has fought and isfighting against genocide and in defence of human dignity, wasa bit more special. Indeed, for the first time, it alsocelebrated an ambassador, Emilio Barbarani, who served at theItalian embassy in Santiago, Chile in the 1970s. School pupilsat the "Rummo" science grammar school marked the day bydedicating a tree in the schoolyard in his honour. "In themid-seventies - the children write - after the coup by AugustoPinochet, for months the Italian Embassy in Santiago, Chilebecame a refuge for hundreds of opponents who risked theirlives. Emilio Barbarani, the consul at the time, handled thedifficult situation, organising the flight abroad of about 750people, including left-wing political activists, supporters ofthe Allende government, men, women and children who just wantedto get away from the atmosphere of terror in the country.Emilio Barbarani worked solely to help others, knowing that theslightest mistake would compromise not only the lives of therefugees, but also his own. So who better than a man who puthis work and his life at the disposal of the good, to deserveto be remembered among the Righteous?" Mr Barbarani arrived inSantiago a month after the murder of Lumi Videla, a leftistactivist, raped, tortured, killed and finally thrown into thegarden of the Italian embassy. His was a mission without formaldiplomatic protection, as Italy had not recognised the Pinochetgovernment, to give a hand to Ambassador de Tomaso Vergottini,in turn tolerated by the junta as an "Italian diplomat intransit". "Neither the ambassador nor I had received from Romeexplicit written instructions to do what we were doing, excepta generic indication to put every effort into defending thepeople politically persecuted by the military regime," writesBarbarani in his memoirs. The young diplomat, who handled theinvestigation into the mysterious murder of Lumi Videla, stayedin the embassy for two years weaving a silent but effectivenetwork of assistance and protection that saved hundreds oflives. vel.