Downstairs in the basement, over 60 lawyers, 40 victims and roughly 15 of the accused police took their seats in what has been nicknamed "the Bunker". The atmosphere could be cut with a knife with the Diaz victims surrounded by the accused cops looking at each other with much hate, anger and very intensive emotion. In a sense, being one of the victims, I realised the gulf between the government and the italian left was as wide as ever with no compromise in between. not that any compromises were being sought by either side anyway.
Although no evidence was going to be presented or heard, this first hearing was fundamental to both sides. On our side, our lawyers worked hard and succeeded in allowing the trial to continue. the police lawyers, who were dressed in Gucci "mafia" suits that must of cost a 1000 euros, tried in vain to state that because a primary witness who has been involved in a car crash, the trial should be stopped or suspended.
The primary witness involved was the policeman who had found the molotov cocktails on the friday before the raid. the statement of this policeman has indicted 19 police officers on conspiracy to plant false evidence to incriminate the Diaz victims and lying to the prosecutors in a cover-up. The personal views from some us was that it was very convenient and timely for the witness to end up in a coma after a "car crash" two days before the trial started. A friend later told me that it is a tradition in italy for car accidents to be "arranged"!
The Judge refused to stop or postpone the trial and instead seperated the witness from the case to allow the trial to continue. One police lawyer objected several times to the point of punching his fist on the table, making a loud noise while "shouting" at the judge. The Judge refused to hear the objection for the second time and overruled him.
The next tactic was to inform the judge that they were seeking a "judicial review" of one of the charges with the hope of delaying the trial whilst the review was heard ( what they are trying to do is what berlusconi did, which is when charged, to change the law before you are convicted). The judge refused to allow the "judicial review" application and the trial was allowed to continue. the rest of the day was taken up submitting "final power of attorney" documents on both sides and the judge examining the documents to see that they were complete and to proceedure.
trying to get a translation of what was going on was hard and difficult for the victims of the Diaz. this problem i expect to continue.
Meanwhile, not many of italian media turned up and much of the coverage today was pro-police and berlusconi biased. The Guardian newspaper did put in an appearance and tried to balance this with a good piece. the BBC stayed away thinking that a BBC wildlife program was more important to do than the Diaz case. Newsnight's editor also decided that yet another George Bush pronouncement a Blair health policy was more important than reminding the British public of what happened during the G8 in 2001
The court finished at 4pm and after a short banner demonstration outside in front of the media, we all decided to return to the Diaz school to come to terms with what had happened there three years ago. for myself, this was my third visit to Diaz and my fifth to Genoa. my life almost ended at the Diaz and since it has always been hard to return. for many, it was for the first time returning to a place of such total pain, shock, terror and horror. my nightmares are of the screams. For others it was dark images of cops batoning them or close friends. for a small group, it was particularly stressful because the nature of their injuries gave them post traumatic stress disorder to a high level. Afterward we all met up for a dinner at a famous and well known resturant called "Mario's"
After the Diaz raid, what was so cruel was that we all had to go through an endurance battle to stay alive, despite our injuries (and no help from their citizen governments they belong to) whilst the lawyers prepared the case. most have been reduced to living below the poverty line with no chance of ever working again. the police who have been charged enjoyed promotion, wages and public standing and have not suffered at all yet.
As for the politicians responsible for the raid, none have been brought to trial or even questioned by the prosecutors. this is not to say the prosecutors have tried and, indeed they are under alot of pressure not to question the politicians involved. Another issue that troubled all of us was the presence of two members of parliament who were working as lawyers on the police side. their names are La Rossa from the (fascist) National Alliance Party and Biondi from Forza Italia. we are also asking our lawyers to research the possiblity that the National Alliance has made large "donations" the police legal fund because the lawyers appear to be very well funded.