On the 5th of July the Italian Supreme Court convicted thirteen police heads involved in the brutal raid at the Diaz-Pertini and Diaz-Pascoli schools of the 21st of July 2001. Most of them, who were previously cleared, received convictions of up to five years, even though others have been now cleared because of the 10-years-time limit that Italian law sets on trials. After eleven years, this is the very first time in which high ranking policemen have been convicted for their brutality during the anti-G8 protests in Genova. However, none of them will ever go to jail; instead, they will only be suspended from duty (Italy’s Statute of limitations) for the next five years.
The Diaz schools were used by protesters in order to do their own counter-information and, eventually, to accommodate people at night. On the night of the 21st of July a group of 400 policemen (whose names are still unknown) broke into the buildings, indiscriminately beating up those people who were inside, and leaving around 90 injured and a British journalist, whose struggle is revealing, in a coma. During the night, 75 people were moved to the nearby police station of Bolzaneto, where they were beaten again.
Police officers first said that the raid was necessary due to a previous hard attack by activists. Also, they have always claimed that activists had Molotov cocktails and reacted violently in a situation where many policemen acted on their own without superiors’ instructions, allowing the situation to get out of hand. Investigations and trials demonstrated that all of these claims were untrue and the Supreme Court confirmed these findings. There were indeed Molotov cocktails, but they were carried in by Giovanni Luperi, who has since been confirmed to have been sentenced to four years in jail for ordering the raid. Unlike the others, he will not be suspended either. He decided to retire. Among the hundreds of policeman that took part in the raid, only nine were singled out, and none of them was condemned due to the time limitation.
Among other things, it remains astonishing that the Italian Parliament never wanted to create an independent review and that, over the span of three politically different cabinets, it hid many important characters of this horrible story for political reasons. In fact, career advancement has become the usual way of dealing with this matter over the past eleven years. Giovanni De Gennaro, head of police during the 2001 G8, is the best example of this: he has recently been promoted as Secretary to the Council of Ministers. However, if the verdict is enforced, the Italian police will lose many high-ranking officials: Francesco Gratteri, head of the central direction of the crime squad; Giovanni Luperi, head of the analysis section of the secret services; and Gilberto Caldarozzi, head of the Central Operating Services.
Meanwhile, ten activists have been under trial for street disorders. They are all accused of “Destruction and Looting”, an item introduced into the Penal Law Code under the fascist regime. Five of the activists have already been sentenced for a total of 60 years combined. Ines Morasca, who was sentenced to 6.5 years, may avoid jail in order to avoid separating her from her baby daughter. While Alberto Funaro and Marina Cugnaschi (sentenced to 12 years and three months) have already been jailed, both Vincenzo Vecchi (sentenced to 13 years and 3 months) and Francesco Puglisi (sentenced to 15 years) are officially wanted at the moment. The other five activists, also sentenced, will have to defend themselves in a new trial, upon the successful postponement of the appeals trial.
The sentence has provoked harsh reactions from the public, given its disproportion and the intimidatory nature against any form of political resistance. Not only, the sentence comes 11 years after the events took place (when all the accused protesters have started new lives, some of them employed as social workers, nurses or factory workers). Many critics are also pointing out that those few activist who have been found guilty will become the scapegoats for the entire movement. Furthermore, the length of the sentence terms (varying from 5 to 15 years) is appalling when compared to the 3-year sentence given to the policemen who brutally beat and killed Federico Aldrovandi in 2005, and to the substantial impunity with which the policemen responsible for the Diaz assault were met. While property damages are being punished with many years of prison, the fatal or near-fatal attacks on the part of the police force against the protesters are met with impunity.
Although 30 thousand people have signed the 10×100 petition, they are not enough, especially if compared to the 300 thousand who were in Genova 11 years ago.
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