Sunday, November 16, 2008


There's justice delayed, and then there's justice denied. Seven years after the events in the Italian city of Genova where police brutally assaulted many protesters and even murdered one- Carlo Guiliani- the officers involved the officers involved are being cleared of charges that were laid against them. Here's a report from the British newspaper The Guardian about the case of two British citizens who were brutalized. The fundamental thing to note is that even though several members of the police were convicted none will have to serve any jail time- courtesy of a statute of limitations. Very generous that.
No justice in Genoa:
The G8 protesters were brutalised, yet the Foreign Office showed complete indifference
Matt Foot
The Guardian, Saturday November 15 2008

Rich Moth and Nicola Doherty had waited a long time for the verdict. But, seven years on, they have been sorely disappointed. On Thursday night, some of Italy's highest-ranking police officers, accused of masterminding a savage attack on peaceful G8 protesters, including Moth and Doherty, in 2001, were cleared of the charges against them.

More than 60 people were taken to hospital after the raid, several in comas. Yet none of the officers who carried out the beatings was even a defendant in the trial. All were masked, and none wore names or numbers during the raid. Only one has ever been identified.

In July 2001, Moth and Doherty travelled to Genoa to join 300,000 protesters in the huge anti-globalisation demonstration against the G8 meeting taking place there. On the Saturday night they decided to stay at the Diaz school, which the local council had given over to people travelling from out of town. But, as they were zipping up their sleeping bags, riot police battered down the front door and streamed in, lashing out indiscriminately.

The pair fled upstairs but there was no escape. As a riot squad walked down the dark corridor, methodically beating those cowering there, Rich lay on top of Nicola to protect her. Officers took it in turns to hit them with batons and kick them, leaving Rich covered with bruises and with a serious gash to the head, while Nicola sustained a fractured wrist.

But this week, after four years of legal wrangling, justice has not been done, The three judges handed out sentences of up to four years to some of the operational commanders, but none of them will have to go to jail, because their offences will expire under a statute of limitations early next year. So what was the verdict on this appalling episode of police brutality?

The five Britons injured in the attack, including Mark Covell, who was almost killed, Dan McQuillan and Norman Blair have tried to move on with their lives, but this decision leaves them without closure. The British government harps on about victims' rights but at the same time shows complete indifference to the plight of these people. Foreign ministers have ignored their letters and the current incumbent has refused to meet them. Presumably these are not the right sort of victim.

Back in July 2001, from the luxury of the yacht where the G8 summit took place, the then foreign secretary Jack Straw reminded us of the need to uphold the rule of law and insisted that he was certain the Italian judicial system would see justice done. These have proved hollow pronouncements.

During the byzantine trial process, the victims of this astonishing episode of police brutality have three times had to brace themselves to recount in court their dreadful experiences - each time the evidence given through tears. They even had the ignominy of facing serious charges that they themselves had been involved in violent disorder, allegations which were later found to be trumped up. The court has made a political decision which reflects more Silvio Berlusconi's return to office than the truth.

Anyone who spends two seconds looking at the video of the police riot at the Diaz school can see that it must have been ordered from on high. It is inconceivable that separate police squads from different parts of the country poured into Diaz school at the same moment and starting beating people without prior briefing and orders.

Rich Moth described the scene in the school that night with bleeding bodies strewn around as like the Crimean war. The sadness and travesty of this latest decision can only confirm the trusted phrase - no justice no peace.
• Matt Foot is the solicitor for both Richard Moth and Nicola Doherty
Here's another earlier take on the matter from Italy Magazine.

Genoa G8 verdict sparks row:
A long-awaited verdict on brutality against anti-globalisation demonstrators during the 2001 G8 summit in Genoa has drawn protests from leftwing MPs and victims.

' 'It is an absurd and disgraceful sentence, contrary to all the evidence and unworthy of a civilised country,'' said Communist party member Pino Sgobio after the Monday night verdict that acquitted 30 of 45 state officials.

Green party member Paolo Cento said the verdict ''supplies only a half truth and leaves wholly unpunished the political responsibilities for the handling of the G8 summit''.

He renewed calls for a parliamentary commission of inquiry into the events in Genoa and called for the crime of torture to be introduced into Italy's penal code, ''as Amnesty International has requested on several occasions''.

''If that crime had been on the books before 2001 the highly serious events at (the) Bolzaneto (detention centre) would certainly have been judged differently''.

The left-leaning La Repubblica daily spoke of ''a virtual whitewash,'' noting that requested jail terms were also cut by a third, to a total of 24 years, and that no one will serve time because of the statute of limitations.

Corriere della Sera quoted one of the victims, a 25-year-old at the time of her experience at Bolzaneto, as saying ''these are ridiculous sentences''.

''That day changed my life,'' she was quoted as saying.

But Fabrizio Cicchitto, Lower House whip for Premier Silvio Berlusconi's People of Freedom (PDL) party, praised the sentence as ''objective and balanced''.

Berlusconi, who last spring swept back to power for the third time, was in the first year of his second term in office when the Genoa summit was organised.

Cicchitto said the sentence proved there was ''no systematic operation of repression or torture but mistakes by some members of the police force''.

This was the line taken immediately after the sentence by Interior Undersecretary Alfredo Mantovano, also of the PDL, who said ''the action of individuals was assessed and the concept of collective guilt was abandoned''.

Of the 15 convictions, the longest term, five years, was given to Bolzaneto head Antonio Biagio Gugliotta, found guilty of forcing detainees to stand for hours in stress positions.

Instead of torture - which is not on the Italian criminal books - the other defendants were found guilty of ''abuse of authority''.

Deputy police chief Alessandro Perugini, caught on film as he kicked a teenager in the face, was given two years and four months; Giacomo Toccafondi, a doctor accused of scores of invasive and humiliating examinations, got 14 months; and Massimo Piggozzi, a policeman who splayed a protester's fingers to breaking point, received a term of three years and two months.

The trial judges ruled that 30 of the 45 defendants either ''did not commit the crime'' or, in their case, ''the crime did not exist''.

Italy's justice and interior ministries were ordered to pay two million euros in compensation - compared to the 15 million the victims had been seeking.

The trial of the 45 state officials opened in October 2005.

The defendants were charged with abuse, fraud, criminal coercion and inhuman and degrading treatment.

In total, 252 demonstrators said they were spat at, verbally and physically humiliated and threatened with rape while being held at the Bolzaneto detention centre.

The prosecution, which wrapped up its case in March, requested jail terms totalling 76 years for police officers, prison guards and doctors working at the centre.

Of the 252 demonstrators who claimed abuse, strong evidence emerged in at least 209 cases considered during the trial.

More than 300,000 demonstrators converged on Genoa for the G8 summit in July 2001.

During two days of mayhem, a 23-year-old protester was shot dead while attacking a policeman, shops and businesses were ransacked and hundreds of people were injured in clashes between police and demonstrators.
The Bolzaneto proceedings are one of three major trials to emerge from violence at the event.
In one case, 29 top-ranking police officials are being tried over a raid on a school used as sleeping quarters by protesters during the event. The charges include grievous bodily harm, planting evidence and wrongful arrest.

Most of the 93 demonstrators arrested during the operation were beaten, some seriously, and 63 had to be taken to hospital. Three people were left comatose(NB-Molly).

In December last year, another court convicted 24 Italians for their involvement in rioting at the summit.

This was the only trial against demonstrators in connection with the event. Although police arrested dozens of people at the time, all other proceedings collapsed for lack of evidence or were dismissed by judges during preliminary hearings.

A 2001 parliamentary inquiry exonerated the police of having used excessive force but stressed that magistrates were entitled to investigate any individual instances of alleged brutality.

Critics at the time accused Berlusconi's centre-right government of a whitewash.

A second enquiry was proposed last year after a top policeman changed his earlier testimony and said he had seen officers commit ''carnage'' during the night raid.

However, the proposal was dropped after two centrist parties joined the centre-right coalition in voting against it(Berlusconi dodges one thing after another-Molly).

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