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Trial forces Italy to relive shocking police brutality

peter popham | 11.10.2005 23:26 | Genoa | Repression

Yes well I know it is straight out of a corporate paper but I think it's a pretty good article and i was there and live in Italy I hope this will go onto the Genoa page but I can't see where to click so I hope one of youi tech spec guys will make sure it gets there and oh by the way the Calvi trial also started in Rome this week ...

Trial forces Italy to relive shocking police brutality
By Peter Popham in Rome
Published: 12 October 2005

Italy is about relive two of its most shocking episodes of alleged police brutality as the trial of officers accused of illegal behaviour over attacks on anti- globalisation protesters proceed in Genoa.
The attacks occurred as the G8 summit of July 2001 in the port city was winding down after days of peaceful mass demonstrations by 200,000 people from all over the world, and violently anarchic protests by a small group known as the Black Block.
Today the trial begins of 45 police, carabinieri, prison officers and medical staff allegedly involved in the attacks at a transit holding camp. They include some of the most senior officers in the camp, and in the city. The charges against them include abuse of authority and unlawful violence.
On Friday, the case against 28 officers involved in the Diaz school raid resumes after a six-month break. Those on trial include some of the most senior police officers in the land. They are charged with trespass, false arrest, inflicting or authorising grievous bodily harm, and with inventing the story intended to justify the raid.
Many of the victims of the attacks will be in court to confront the men who attacked them, including the British freelance journalist Mark Covell, who was the first and one of the most badly injured in the school.
This week Mr Covell, who was working for IndyMedia during the summit, said: "I was in a coma for four days after the raid; my head was split from the front to the back. I had eight broken ribs, shredded lungs, 10 broken teeth. The treatment has not finished yet. I need another operation on my spine and my left hand will have to be broken and re-set. Most of the Diaz victims are in a similar state."
Genoa was the first big international event hosted by Silvio Berlusconi's then new centre-right government and although all went smoothly for the world leaders closeted in the city centre behind high wire fences, outside it was mayhem.
It was on Saturday night, as the protesters were bedding down, planning to leave the next morning, that the police decided to seize the initiative. About 150 special police led by a crack "experimental" Flying Squad unit from Rome equipped with side-handled "tonfa" batons, smashed their way into the city school, which had been loaned to the Genoa Social Forum, organisers of the protests.
The police fanned out through the three floors, beating their victims until many were unconscious on a floor splattered with blood. Sixty-two of the 93 people in the school required medical treatment; 25 had to stay in hospital for further treatment, including three who were comatose.
All were arrested, whatever their condition, and many, including some who were badly injured, were taken to a temporary detention centre called Bolzaneto, six kilometres outside the city.
More beatings and humiliations followed. Female prisoners were made to spreadeagle themselves against walls for hours in the middle of the night while police threatened to rape them with their truncheons. They were forced to sing pro-Fascist songs.
Within a day or so the foreigners among them were taken to the Italian border and told they had to leave immediately - many without money, belongings, even passports.
Paul Ginsborg, a historian of contemporary Italy, said: "Really disgusting things happened in Bolzaneto, pure Fascist stuff. With the election of the centre-right government, and with the post-Fascist leader Gianfranco Fini as Deputy Prime Minister, certain elements thought they could get away with anything."
But the victory of the police was short-lived. All the charges against those arrested were dismissed for lack of evidence. Months later it emerged that the police's prize discovery at the school, two Molotov cocktails, had been confiscated that afternoon from an unrelated locality, and planted by officers .
The prosecutor of the case, Enrico Zucca, has overcome many obstacles to bring the case this far. But now Dr Zucca fears that both may fail to come to judgement thanks to a new law now passing through parliament.
Nicknamed the "Save-Previti" law, it is purpose-made, opposition MPs claim, to enable one of Mr Berlusconi's closest colleagues, Cesare Previti, to escape prison on a judge-bribing charge by cutting in half the statute of limitations as it applies to a whole raft of criminal offences.
If the bill becomes law, the two trials will wind slowly onwards, but will finally be killed off before anyone can be punished.
Richard Parry, the British lawyer for the four British victims of the Diaz raid, said said: "It will be a funda- mental breach of their human rights if my clients can't get compensation. That would be wrong."
The protests and their aftermath
* MAY 2001: Silvio Berlusconi wins election
* 18 JULY 2001: Some 200,000 anti-globalisation protesters pour into Genoa for G8 Summit
* 20 JULY: Carlo Giuliani shot dead as he hurls fire extinguisher at police
* 21 JULY: Police raid Diaz school, many unarmed members of independent media attacked
* 22 JULY: Victims of raid sent to Bolzaneto camp and face more abuse and attacks. Charges against them later dropped
* May 2003: Genoa judge rules that none of the 93 arrested at Diaz was involved in violence

peter popham


Hide the following 8 comments

remembering the bad news

12.10.2005 03:13

Damn, I'm missing something here?!
Since 2001, Italy has swung further to the Right, passed a whole series of repugnant laws, and laughed in the faces of those they have brutalized.

Now this article, are we all supposed to pretend that there is ANY chance of justice being done??? Somebody wants to get Rodney Real on the phone.

Since 2001, Blair's gang of extremists has GROWN, not shrunk. His psycho has just taken control of Germany, Holland has fallen, and Australia cheerfully re-elected a raving madman. Extreme right wings laws have been passed in those nations that don't yet 'seem' to have a Blair man/women running them.

So, when we see a fascist court deliberate on the crimes of its own thugs, what exactly are we supposed to do, or feel? Believing in Santa, or the Easter Bunny makes more sense than expecting anything good to happen in one of those territories under Blair's control.

In 2001, the Italian state gave the protestors a good kicking because it WANTED to give them a good kicking. Justice will not occur when the criminals ARE the law. Did this brutal event change anything? In my opinion, it merely warned us all how bad things were going to get, a warning that required some action, though none was forthcoming. Today, things are a lot worse. Tomorrow they will be worse again.

When will we say 'enough'? You know in your hearts that this time, we are not going to say a word. Instead, we are going to watch our fate play out, and lie to ourselves, saying that it is all 'inevitable'.


I'm no lawyer.....

12.10.2005 08:48

...but its amazing that no-one's tried to challenge that clown Berlusconi's blatantly crooked laws in any of the European courts. And its bloody depressing that none of the other EU leaders have had the balls to say anything publically, as far as I can tell. The sooner someone does something, the better.



12.10.2005 09:07

This should have been and still should be a major diplomatic sore point between the UK & Italy. If this was Mugabe the media would be all over it.

There was a bit of mainstream coverage of the incidents at the time which may have been responsible for the British Consulate actually finally getting off its arse and visint the "prisoners".

Italy should be receiving widespread condemnation from the EU for its behaviour.

Don Camillo


12.10.2005 09:21

Genoa topic box ticked :-)

Imc UK person

Other corporate media on Genoa Trials (diaz / bolzenetto)

12.10.2005 11:31

Brutality trials start for top Italian police

· G8 protesters claim they were gassed and beaten
· New laws could render convictions meaningless

John Hooper in Rome
Wednesday October 12, 2005
The Guardian,12576,1589996,00.html

Seventy-five people, including some of Italy's most senior police officers, go on trial in the next two days, accused of taking part in an orgy of brutality against protesters during and after the demonstrations at the 2001 G8 summit in Genoa.

Court papers seen by the Guardian show that one police witness gave a written statement describing his colleagues "beating young people like wild beasts". Several of the victims were British.

The defendants all deny the charges. Even if found guilty, it looks increasingly unlikely that any will go to prison, or even pay a fine, because of a bill currently making its way through the Italian parliament. The proposed legislation, which critics of Silvio Berlusconi's government say was devised to keep the prime minister's former lawyer out of jail, would render any sentences null and void.

Article continues
Twenty-five protesters are on trial accused of looting and damage to property.

The first of the two new trials begins today with 47 police and medical staff accused of mistreating arrested demonstrators at a camp at Bolzaneto, near Genoa. Prosecutors allege detainees were beaten and sprayed with asphyxiating gas. They say some were forced to shout out chants in praise of Italy's late fascist dictator, Benito Mussolini, and that at least one of the songs was anti-semitic. Charges brought against the defendants range from actual bodily harm to failure to respect international human rights conventions.

Among those indicted is the commander of Italy's penitentiary guards, who was promoted to his position despite being placed under investigation for failing to prevent abuses. The head of the camp's medical staff, Giacomo Toccafondi, is charged with, among other things, failing to report the gassing of detainees.

The second trial, which starts on Friday, concerns the night of July 22 2001, when police in riot gear burst into a school being used as a dormitory by demonstrators. They thought the school was a headquarters for the so-called "black block" protesters who were responsible for much of the violence and vandalism during the anti-G8 demonstrations. Almost a hundred people were injured in the operation which was overseen by some of Italy's most senior police officers. Three of the victims were left in a coma. No one arrested in the raid was later charged.

After breaking down the door, officers belonging to the 7th anti-riot squad, based in Rome, began kicking and beating those inside with such ferocity that "in the space of a few minutes, all the occupants of the ground floor had been reduced to complete helplessness", the prosecutors said. On the top floor, some demonstrators were hiding in cupboards. "They were discovered, viciously beaten and dragged to lower floors," they allege.

After the raid, police claimed they had found Molotov cocktails on the premises. The prosecutors allege, however, that the homemade bombs were confiscated by police during the demonstrations and planted at the school as part of a "clear manipulation constructed to deceive". None of the officers on trial has been suspended from duty. In June, the officer commanding the 7th Rome anti-riot squad was promoted.


Genoa police on 'brutality' trial
Wednesday, 12 October 2005

The first of two trials of dozens of Italian police officers accused of attacking protesters at the G8 summit in Genoa in 2001 is due to open.

Some 45 police and medical staff are going on trial on Wednesday accused of mistreating protesters that had been arrested and held at a camp near Genoa.

On Friday, 28 officers will appear in court over a raid at a school which protesters were using as a dormitory.

The defendants - which include senior city officers - deny the charges.

More than 600 witnesses are due to be called altogether, including the former Italian interior minister, Gianfranco Fini, who is now the foreign minister.

Dozens of people from the UK, Germany, France and the US who claim they suffered injuries, some life threatening, are expected to be among those giving evidence.

The alleged brutality took place as the G8 summit in the Italian port city came to a close after days of mainly peaceful, mass demonstrations.

A small minority, mainly anarchist groups such as Black Bloc, were blamed for the violence and vandalism that broke out.

'Almost killed'

On the night the protests ended, riot police smashed their way into Diaz school, where many of the demonstrators had been staying.

They reportedly kicked and beat those they found inside. More than 1,000 people were injured; three were left in a coma.

Mark Covell, from London, was one of those who found himself in the front line.

"Three hundred police raided two buildings," he said.

"Within the space of about 15 minutes I was almost killed and there were 92 other protesters, most of which were injured quite badly."

Many of those arrested were taken to a detention camp at Bolzaneto, 6kms outside Genoa.

Here they were allegedly beaten again, sprayed with asphyxiating gas and forced to sing pro-Fascist songs.

Some of the most senior officers in the camp, and in the city, are facing trial on charges including abuse of authority and unlawful violence.

But even if the defendants are found guilty, they may escape punishment because of a new law passing through parliament.

Critics say the law has been devised to enable Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's former lawyer to escape a jail term on bribery charges, but will also apply to a whole range of criminal offences.

Ghosts of G8 haunt Genoa



(AGI) - Genoa, Oct 12 - MEP Vittorio Agnoletto was seen outside a Genoa court this morning waiting for the start of a trial regarding alleged riot police abuses on anti-globalisation activists during the July 2001 G8 meeting. "We expect justice be done," said Agnoletto, former spokesperson for the Genoa Social Forum. "Justice ought to be a right, but it is unfortunately still an achievement in Italy. If the charges against police are declared statute-barred as a result of the law recently passed by Parliament, then we will turn to the Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg." (AGI)


State organised butchery

12.10.2005 11:45

Thanx for ticking th genoa button techie, be handy to know where it is .
I will certainly remember genoa for the rest of my life I had been to nicaragua and most of south and central america and seen people gunned down down by cops and para militaries and known that feeling of being completely helpless after getting a kick in the face or a rifle butt from some passing soldier, on a brand new chevy pick up. But this was the first time I felt the south american feeling in europe and it was real scary.
To hear the bastard Bliar praise the Italian cops in the days after genova really made it for me.
To compared to that piece of fascist shit thatcher was a nice little old lady. My grandfather was one of the foounder members of the labour party ..
State organised butchery

"YOU CAN'T defend the action of the police in shooting and killing someone," said Peter Hain, minister for European Affairs. Yet Tony Blair did just that.
While Hain condemned the Italian police's "excessive reaction", Blair backed their actions.
Even Berlusconi, the Italian prime minister, tried to distance himself from the raid on the media centre of the Genoa Social Forum (GSF), saying he didn't know it was going to be attacked.
One eye-witness called this raid "authorised butchery". 200 police stormed a school which was also used as a dormitory. GSF volunteers and sleeping protesters were brutally battered, splattering walls and floors with blood.
61 were injured. 93 people were arrested, including victims carried out on stretchers. The police also smashed computers and destroyed or seized all evidence of police brutality from the previous two days.
The level of repression against demonstrators has escalated with each anti-capitalist protest.
In Gothenburg, live ammunition was deployed against protesters for the first time in Sweden since 1931, wounding three. In Genoa, 20,000 Italian Carabinieri used tanks, tear gas, water cannon, clubs, and plastic, rubber and live bullets killing one person and injuring hundreds.
These protests have shaken the representatives of global capitalism. It's not a small minority of violent protesters they fear, but radicalised young people linking up with workers against the system. With the capitalist world economy on the verge of recession, protests will increase.
Excessive state violence is being used to try and deter and criminalise all anti-capitalist protesters.
There is mounting evidence of state collusion with the "black bloc" in Genoa and use of provocateurs. A Catholic priest saw 'anarchists' getting out of a police van. Others saw 'men in black' in police stations and undercover agents throwing Molotov cocktails. CWI members witnessed black-clad men standing beside the police.
A London Evening Standard journalist saw a plainclothes police officer disguised as a journalist fire a gun in the air: this police tactic could put journalists at risk. On the Friday while some protesters were smashing and looting, police sat and watched.
When Carlo Giuliani's police killer was "trapped" in a police van, other police vehicles were parked less than 30 metres away.

Pasta man

More coverage

13.10.2005 14:49

More mainstream coverage, from ANSA and Reuters newswires

G8 police trials reopen in Genoa
28 top officials accused of brutality and planting evidence
By Karma Hickman

(ANSA) - Genoa, October 13 - A group of top-ranking officers will appear in court on Friday in the second of two trials involving alleged police brutality during an international summit here in 2001 .

Twenty-eight officers are accused of grievous bodily harm, planting evidence and wrongful arrest during a night-time raid on the Diaz School, which anti-globalization protestors at the Group of Eight Summit were using as sleeping quarters .

A further 45 state officials, including police officers, prison guards and doctors, are charged with physically and mentally abusing demonstrators held in a detention centre in the nearby town of Bolzaneto. The first trial opened Wednesday but was immediately adjourned .

The alleged brutality occurred after a series of largely peaceful, mass demonstrations, which drew some 200,000 people to the port city .

Anarchists have since been blamed for an outbreak of violence, during which a 23-year-old activist was shot dead by a police officer, shops were ransacked and hundreds of people were injured in clashes between police and demonstrators .

On Friday, some of the highest police officials in the land will appear in court for ordering the Diaz School raid .

Sixty-two demonstrators required medical treatment after the operation, in which 150 police in riot gear smashed down the doors of the school building in the early hours of July 22 .

Three people were left comatose, including a freelance British journalist, Marc Covell .

He was unconscious for 14 hours after the raid, which left him with a vein twisted around his spine, a shredded lung, broken fingers, ten smashed teeth and eight broken ribs .

Police said the people injured were violent and resisted arrest. They claimed protestors were harbouring dangerous weapons and said they found two Molotov cocktails on the premises .

Charges were later dropped against all 93 demonstrators arrested that night .

Prosecutors are instead convinced that police planted the petrol bombs, the linchpin in the case against demonstrators .

Police are also accused of falsifying other evidence, authorizing or inflicting grievous bodily harm, making false accusations and arrests, and fabricating the story they used to justify the raid .

Meanwhile, 45 state officials are defendants in the Bolzaneto trial, which resumes November 4. They are charged with lying, abuse, criminal coercion and inhuman and degrading treatment .

Nearly 250 activists have complained they were spat at, verbally and physically humiliated and threatened with rape. Prosecutors also claim that one woman had her head thrust down a toilet, a man was ordered to crawl around on his hands and knees and bark like a dog and detainees were forced to sing pro-Fascist songs .

Five medical workers, including the garrison's most senior doctor, Giacomo Toccafondi, are charged with insulting detainees during their examinations and failing to inform authorities after asphyxiating gas was allegedly sprayed into protestors' cells .

But prosecutors and the alleged victims are worried that despite convincing evidence - including extensive video footage - those they believe are responsible will not be punished .

"Unfortunately, the delay in bringing these people to trial means that the statute of limitations will probably have expired on the worst charges," said Enrica Bartesaghi, who helped found the Committee for Truth and Justice group after her 21-year-old daughter was held at Bolzaneto .

"The abuse charges have almost have hit their five-year deadline. This means prosecutors will only be able to request convictions on the more minor charges, such as fraud and failing to allow non-Italians access to their consulates" .

And according to one of the prosecutors in the Bolzaneto trial, Mario Morisani, even the eight-year statute on these lesser charges might not be enough, given the number of plaintiffs, defendants and witnesses involved .

"If everything goes well, we will need some 200-250 hearings, and we have just a little over three years before the judge will be forced to close the trials," he said .

There is also concern that a government-backed justice reform bill being examined by parliament would aggravate the situation .

The bill, which critics say is tailor-made to help an aide of Premier Silvio Berlusconi escape corruption charges, shortens the statute of limitations for a host of crimes .

If the statute of limitations expires, both the Diaz and the Bolzaneto trials will be called to an abrupt halt .

The only remaining option for those affected would be to take their case to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, a process that can take years .

Meanwhile, a trial against 25 demonstrators accused of looting and ransacking shops during the summit is also under way. If found guilty, they face between 18 and 25 years in jail .



Italian police go on trial for G8 prisoner abuse
12 Oct 2005 13:31:30 GMT
Source: Reuters
By Phil Stewart

ROME, Oct 12 (Reuters) - Forty-five police, prison guards and medical staff went on trial on Wednesday, accused of beating and abusing protestors detained after outbreaks of violence during a summit of major world leaders in Genoa in 2001.

It is one of two high-profile cases into alleged police brutality taking place this week, reviving bitter memories of the Group of Eight summit that saw fierce clashes with anti-globalisation protesters.

Italian prosecutors say some 150 activists were kicked, punched, hit in the groin and dragged around by their hair at the Bolzaneto police garrison, after being detained during the summit. Some were forced to put their heads in toilets and bark like dogs, according to a prosecutors' report released in March.

Outside the courtroom in Genoa on Wednesday, a small group of protesters wore signs around their necks, with one reading: "Repeatedly hit with a club".

"The signs are from real testimony of people injured at Bolzaneto," said Enrica Bartesaghi, whose daughter was injured during the summit.

Police and medical staff deny accusations of abuse. Few were actually present in the courtroom on Wednesday and proceedings were quickly adjourned until November.

The 2001 clashes left the ancient port city of Genoa looking like a war-zone, littered with burnt-out cars and vandalised property.

One protester, Carlo Giuliani, was shot dead as he tried to throw a fire extinguisher through the window of a cornered police jeep. Giuliani's father was outside the Genoa courtroom on Wednesday.

Another 28 police face trial on Friday in connection with a violent raid during the G8 conference on the local Armando Diaz school, which served as a headquarters for demonstrators.

The clashes left bloodstains on the stairwells and walls.

"We're concerned that the people responsible might not see justice," said Bartesaghi, who runs the "Truth and Justice Committee for Genoa", a group for victims.

Bartesaghi said she was worried that none of the offending officers would ever actually go to jail because of Italy's slow trial process, which allows multiple appeals but also sets time-limits on how long cases can run.

Not only the police face court proceeding for their role in the G8 summit. Last year, 26 activists were charged with looting, damaging property, resisting arrest, carrying explosive materials and robbery.

They face up to 15 years in jail if found guilty.



who do we harrass for diplomatic ation?

14.10.2005 23:45

I was on their case at the time (okay troll wankstains do your best to eyeball me!), who do we target now for an official response to the trial???

m agoo

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