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Investigations in Genoa are ending - trials against protestors and police

Dieser Text ist eine Übersetzung des deutschen Textes, den wir vor 10 Tagen verschickt haben.
This is a translation of a german text we spread 10 days ago.

After the Group of Eight (G8) summit in Genoa, Italy, July 2001, the State
Prosecution in Genoa continues its investigation against protesters, police, and
carabinieri (military police). This is a summary of a meeting with the lawyers
Laura Tartarini and Simone Sabattini.

1.Prosecution of police and carabinieri:

The lawyers of the former Genoa Legal Forum support critical state prosecutors
who are investigating police and carabinieri. Investigations are underway for
the raids of the Diaz-Pertini School and the Diaz-Pascoli School, the torture in
the Bolzaneto police barracks, and the use of CS-gas (tear gas) on Friday in
Piazza Manin and in Corso Italia on Saturday. Because of problems in identifying
the police officers responsible for specific acts, most of the criminal
prosecution investigations target those police officers responsible for
coordinating and leading police interventions.
A parliamentary investigation commission about the use of CS-gas has obtained a
report about the danger of CS-gas. Six thousand, two hundred gas containers were
used that weekend. A first success of the investigation has been that the
Italian Ministry of the Interior prohibited the use of CS-gas and the use of
“Tonfa” police batons at the European Social Forum in Florence.
The investigations of the treatment of prisoners in the Bolzaneto barracks will
be closed by the end of May 2003. Currently, 30 police officers face criminal
prosecution: some for committing criminal acts against prisoners, some for
letting criminal acts against prisoners happen. There were few officers
positively identified by those who had been held in Bolzaneto, but nevertheless
the number of 30 prosecutions is quite high. Complaints against the police will
be brought to the Minister of Justice, the Director of the Department of Prison
Administration, and the Highest Examining Magistrate of Genoa.
The investigations of the raid on the Diaz-Pertini School will also be closed at
the end of May 2003. The state intends criminal prosecution of all 90 police
officers involved, as well against the highly decorated commanders of the raid.
The state will prosecute officers for making false statements, faking evidence
and testimonies, and making false accusations.
The prosecution will be complicated, because the police force involved, the
“Servizio Centrale Operativo,” is a famous special force; it operates as an
antiterrorism and anti-mafia force, concurrently with the ROS of the Carabinieri.
All prosecutions of police and carabinieri are based on the premise that it is
the purpose of the police to prevent crimes. Police officers present in
Bolzaneto might say in their defense that they did not realize that prisoners
were being mistreated; police officers present in the Diaz-Pertini School will
not be able to say that. Police officers will defend themselves by saying that
their actions were necessary reactions to protesters’ resistance, so documentary
material that shows the protesters’ lack of resistance is urgently needed, for
example, footage showing that nothing was thrown out of the windows of the
Diaz-Pertini School. Neighbors have made statements that nothing was thrown out
of the windows, but they have also said that there were “lookouts” on the roofs
and people swinging sticks. As concerns the alleged stabbing of a police
officer, several contradictory reports have been made; there are 3 versions of
this “criminal act”. It is implausible that the “attacker” could have fled into
the Diaz-Pertini School without having been identified. The police have refused
to testify, as they are facing criminal accusations. It is now well-known how
the Molotov cocktails, allegedly pieces of “evidence” found in the Diaz-Pertini
School, were actually planted by the police: prosecutors know the vehicle,
license plate number, driver, and passengers of the vehicle that brought the
Molotov cocktails to the school. There is also a video showing several important
police officers gathered around a plastic bag, but this will not be enough for
the court; more video material is needed.
For the police raid of the Independent Media Center in the Diaz-Pascoli School,
there are investigations underway for theft (of computers, hard discs, and
videos) against 12 police officers. The raid was illegal, and one person was
beaten up. Allegedly, the raid of the Diaz-Pascoli School was due to confusion,
since some of the police forces had come down the street, others up the street.
The Diaz-Pascoli School was raided again on July 24, 2001; police claim to have
found drums, black clothes, and so on.
This evidences is not being used in the investigations. There are no
investigations against the people who were present in the Diaz-Pascoli School.
In addition, the vice-chief of the DIGOS will be prosecuted for having brutally
beaten up a 16 year old. The beatings are well documented and this incident is
well known. The charges against the 16 year old have been dropped. The thug from
the DIGOS has been promoted and acts nowadays as the logistical chef of the
Genovese police. The investigations against the carabinieri who were involved
Carabiniere Mario Placanica’s murder of Carlo Giuliani, in Piazza Alimonda, have
been closed. Judge Elena Daloisio’s decision is a political disaster: she
decided that Carlo Giuliani’s death was justified because Mario Placanica had
acted in “self defense” and “legitimate weapon use” (§ 53 of the criminal code)
even though the state prosecutor Silvio Franz had only claimed “self defense”.
This decision is politically very important, because it sets a dangerous
precedent for the “legitimate” use of firearms and live ammunition against
demonstrators, possibly constituting a legal escape for other similar situations
in the future, in which any murder committed by a policeman would be excused by
his being “on duty”.
The German “group of 10,” which was arrested in two caravans on the Monday after
the demonstrations, has also made a complaint for criminal prosecution of the
police for their mistreatment of the 10 Germans in the police station at Santa
Margarita and at Marassi prison. There has been no news on that, even though it
should be easy to find out who had led the interrogations of the prisoners at
the station. The ROS unit that was present during the incidents might be the
same unit that came to the prison to take photographs of the prisoners’ tattoos.
The director of Marassi prison, Cristina Bigi, whom investigators had questioned
intensively, to clear up what had happened, was transferred to another prison in
La Spezia. There are no disciplinary proceedings against the seven guards
involved, and there are currently no claims for criminal prosecution of them.
Abuse of prisoners also occurred at the police station in San Giuliano, where
the carabinieri brought people whom they had arrested. The lawyers know at least
one person who does not wish to prosecute the carabinieri in San Giuliano.
Members of the Publixtheater Caravan have made a complaint against the police
for their treatment in San Giuliano. There are press reports about surveillance
records from conversations inside the prison cells that say that the
Publixtheatre had only made up their accusations against the police. These
alleged surveillance records have never been shown to the lawyers. The status of
the charge of abuse in San Giuliano police station is not known.
It looks as if there is an inquiry made by the German Ministry of the Interior
on the status of investigations against protesters. Presumably, this is so that
the Italian authorities can help the German authorities complete their “files on
violent Subjects”. No data have been transferred.

2. Prosecution of protesters:

The cases against protesters can be divided into 2 groups: those arrested during
the events in Genoa and those arrested later on. The State Prosecution makes a
distinction between individuals who are not suspected of belonging to an
organization, but who are suspected of having resisted arrest, and the others,
who were arrested in groups and are now suspected of being part of a criminal
association. (Evidence of participation in a criminal association includes such
things as “black clothes.”) Lawyers estimate that the “simpler” cases, with
charges such as “heavy property damage,” will be tried earlier. The long
investigation period suggests that a lot of video material has been evaluated to
back up the Prosecution’s claim that there was a criminal organization at work
in Genoa. The long delay also suggests that the Prosecution’s evidence is too
lousy to make a case out of, and that the charges will be reduced to heavy
property damage and looting. Long terms of investigations also allow the
surveillance of suspects’ phones to get new information.
There is an Italian law saying the State Prosecution only has two years for
investigation, after the identification of a suspect. Because of this, all
investigations have to be closed by the end of September 2003. Even if the
investigations lead to the conclusion of a lack of evidence, the defense must be
well prepared. The Supreme Court in Rome has issued a worrying sentence
regarding the decision to release the Publixtheater Caravan in August, 2001: the
Supreme Court decided that the evidence (tools and clothes) that had been found
with the Publixtheatre Caravan was too serious, and that the Caravan people
should not have been released from pretrial custody. This sentence has
precedence for minor courts.
In this Supreme Court sentence, the accusation of “spiritual complicity” arose
for the first time. It means that because the suspects didn’t visibly stand out
from the “black block”, they provided “mental support” to criminal acts. There
is no law yet on spiritual complicity in this sense; the accusation is used to
extend the investigations. Further arrests are not to be expected; any evidence
exists, the people affected by it have already been arrested.
Up to now, there have been six trials for “heavy property damage” in Genoa: two
people from Italy have been sentenced to one year and 6 months, and one year and
8 months on remand. Two people from Sweden, who were present at their trials,
made a deal with the court and got a lighter sentence. One trial against Valerie
Vie, a woman from France who entered the red zone, is not finished yet, and
neither is one trial against a man from Ireland.
There are investigations against 23 members of the labor union COBAS on charges
of being part of an international criminal organization that the Prosecution is
calling the “black block”. The unionists were arrested on July 21st at the camp
alongside Via Redipuglia, and brought to Bolzaneto.
The other 120 people arrested before these 23 unionists had been charged only
with “violent resistance to state force” and “heavy property damage.”
For the 23 COBAS unionists, the charges were changed to, “criminal association
with intent to destroy property and to commit black-block related crimes.” The
23 unionists had been arrested for following a truck to the campsite;
prosecutors allege that batons and sticks were distributed from this truck. The
prosecution has already announced that it will drop the criminal charges, and
this will probably happen. Only three people from Turin will still face criminal
charges, because of photos taken from a helicopter.
In Cosenza, Naples, Calabria and Basilicata, 20 activists were arrested before
the European Social Forum in Florence on November 25th, 2002. The arrestees are
suspected of having formed a “subversive association.” Thirteen of them were put
into prison and others were put under house arrest. There have been
investigations against 42 people in total, in connection with these arrests.
Francesco Caruso, leader of the “No Global” network from Naples, Francesco
Cirillo and Giuseppe Fonzino, leaders of the movement in Cosenza and Taranto,
were also arrested during these raids. The Prosecution claims that these three
are supposedly the heads of a subversive association called “Network of the
Rebel South”. The Prosecution claims that the Network organized the riots in
Naples in March 2001 (during the Global Forum organized by Italy’s previous
government) and in Genoa during the G8 Summit. According to the Prosecution, the
Network would have organized a “red block” to be located behind the “black block.”
After 45 raids in December 2002, another 23 people were arrested by the DIGOS.
They have been charged with property destruction and depredation (both crimes
punishable by 8-15 years of detention but are usually not applied to anyone);
looting; arson; making, carrying and keeping explosives; carrying and keeping
homemade weapons; and resistance and violence against state forces. A new kind
of indictment, “mental participation,” is also being used. In explaining the
charge, Judge D’Aloiso states, “It is clear that not only those who materially
took part in the devastation should be prosecuted, but also those who
facilitated the acts or gave strength to their purpose. These people should be
prosecuted even if they didn’t conduct any material act.” Because of video
material and other materials seized, these 23 will face trials for sure. The
Prosecution wants to close the investigations in July 2003 and open the trials
in September. The Prosecution wants to drop the charges of international
criminal association against these 23 for lack of evidence, but not to drop the
other charges. The judge, Elena D’Aloiso, has not made a decision yet.
One person is still in prison, and another person still under house arrest, from
the raids of December 2002.
In case of the Diaz-Pertini School the prosecutor has asked for all charges
against the protesters to be dropped; the prosecutor argues that weapons and
other evidence were found, but that these could not be related with the people
arrested. Three of those arrested in the Diaz-Pertini School faced charges
because of crimes they were accused of having committed at the demonstration,
but the judge dropped the charges because the evidence was ridiculous.
The three people who had attacked the carabinieri jeep, from which Carlo
Giuliani was shot in Piazza Alimonda, will face charges for attempted murder,
heavy property damage, and looting.
The investigations against the group of ten Germans, the Publixtheater Caravan,
and the people from Leipzig, Supernal and Berlin, all of whom had been charged
with “criminal association,” are still open.
Many of those who were not Italian were deported and banned from returning to
Italy. Reportedly, all those who made an application to contest their
deportations had their deportations cancelled, but many of them still don’t have
any papers that prove this. Those who have deportations and entry bans should
contact their lawyers once again.
Police and carabinieri hurt hundreds of demonstrators; hundreds of demonstrators
are also considered suspects in continuing investigations, both as individuals
and in groups. To answer these charges, the defense lawyers need further
witnesses and more video material. The videos are so important because many
reports are made on the basis of video evidence.
The most important pieces of video footage needed are the sequences from the
riots on Friday, the raid at the Diaz-Pertini school, and Piazza Alimonda.
Lawyers say that they won’t hand over the material they receive and they will
black out any incriminating sequences. A homepage of the videos that are already
known will go online soon. Lawyers hope that more of those who have been
affected by the events in Italy will come forward when they are no longer
considered suspects. Statements can also be made directly to the lawyers. Many
of those who had been affected fear that they will also be charged if they make
statements against the police and carabinieri. However, the lawyers consider
this very improbable; they assess that it would only happen in case of serious
evidence. Also, in Italy, people who have been accused have the right to refuse
to incriminate themselves.
Trials will be held only in Italy, not in foreign countries as they were after
Gothenburg. There is no obvious pattern to show how the prosecutions will go.
They may “fall asleep” and all be dropped after 5 years because of a lack of
evidence; it also might be that, after a while when there is no more public
interest in the Genoa trials, the people will get sentenced then. The lawyers
recommend keeping the attention on the trials. Extraditions on the basis of the
“European warrant” are not realistic. It will not be ratified until 2004 and
won’t be applied retroactively to criminal acts committed before then. To help
the lawyers work in Italy, it would be good to send them a list of the lawyers
working on “G8 cases” in other countries.

3. The political context in Italy:

There’s a network of lawyers, solidarity groups, and journalists who are
collecting evidence and searching for witnesses in the ongoing investigations of
cases such as the events in Piazza Alimonda and in the Diaz-Pertini School.
There is also a collective of lawyers who were related to the now-dissolved
Genoa Legal Forum.
For a long time, it was primarily the lawyers, the Social Centers and the Social
Forums that were concerned with the political consequences of the G8 summit. For
example, there were demonstrations and actions after the arrests in Cosenza, and
delegates from the Greens and the Rifondazione Communista also demonstrated. A
coordination of 19 representatives of the different Social Forums, with about
the same number of different political affiliations, came to consensus on the
following demands: the resignation of the national chief of the police, and the
institution of a commission to investigate the situation. A problematic aspect
is that single groups, such as the COBAS labor unions and the Disobbedienti
(practicioners of “Civil and Social Disobedience”), support mostly their own
people. There were a lot of small solidarity actions, but less movement overall.
Even though there has been a wide range of support for the protests, there has
also been a “removal of solidarity” with the militants, also known as the “black
block”. This separation of the “bad” from the “good” protesters must be seen
within a history of militant struggles in Italy. Regrettably, some lawyers also
make this separation. Two years after the G8 summit, the borders between
militant and non-militant protesters are blurring and the protests are more and
more being considered as the articulation of a diversity of tactics and ideas.
Because of this, the national summit of the Social Forums decided to support all
of the protesters and to raise a scandal condemning the police’s mistakes, not
the protesters.
Nevertheless, there may be more splitting within the movement as the upcoming
trials take place; even though the raid in the Diaz-Pertini School is uniformly
condemned, there has been much criticism of other actions, such as the attacking
and burning of a carabinieri car.
For the second anniversary of the protests against the G8 in Genoa, activists
are preparing a conference planned on the European Human Rights Charter, the
European arrest warrant and international coordination of investigations,
anti-terrorist laws, and the criminalization of organizations that criticize
globalization. A big demonstration will take place in Genoa on the 20th of July.
Meanwhile, it is difficult to attract attention on the trials. Only the work of
the Committee For Truth And Justice, which is preoccupied with the shootings in
Piazza Alimonda, has gotten some attention. The lawyers point out that
alternative media such as Indymedia and independent radio stations have to
engage themselves more with this.
In Evian, there will be a workshop on Genoa and Gothenburg. It will be a place
for people who have been affected by the events surrounding the protests, people
who have been accused of breaking laws, and other interested people to meet, to
network and to prepare actions and campaigns for the second anniversary of
Genoa. When trials start, there should be “coordinating groups,” to relay
information and to maintain contacts and networking between the people affected
by the situation.

Again, at this point, we call people to send all recorded material and
testimonies to the lawyers in Italy.

  • english: http://italy.indymedia.org/news/2003/02/176245.php
  • francais: http://italy.indymedia.org/news/2003/02/175119.php
  • deutsch: http://italy.indymedia.org/news/2003/02/175112.php
  • espanol http://italy.indymedia.org/news/2003/02/175192.php
    The lawyers can be reached at: inchiesta-g8@indymedia.org