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Court upholds convictions of Italian G8 police

Statute of limitations means none of officers guilty of beating protesters will go to jail, but many will receive suspensions

Eleven years after Italian police savagely beat scores of protesters at the Genoa G8 meeting in 2001, leaving one British activist in a coma, an Italian court has upheld the convictions of senior officers for their roles in the raid.

The decision by Italy’s cassation court, after an initial trial and an appeal, draws a definitive line underneath the violence, which Amnesty International described as the most serious suspension of democratic rights in a western country since the second world war.

The final sentences have been watered down by the statute of limitations and the accused will not be jailed, but a number of top-ranking officers now face five-year suspensions from duty.

“This ruling is a tsunami, an earthquake,” said Enrico Zucca, a magistrate who prosecuted the officers at trial.

On the night of 21 July, more than 300 police officers raided the Armando Diaz school in Genoa, where activists and journalists were bedding down for the night, thrashing people indiscriminately with batons and planting two Molotov cocktails to justify the raid. Protesters were hauled to a nearby jail, where they were again kicked and beaten.

After senior officers were acquitted at trial in 2008, an appeal in 2010 reversed the verdicts, convicting 25 officers for grievous bodily harm, libel and falsifying evidence. Before the third and final hearing at the court of cassation, which is required by Italian law, the statute of limitations timed out all convictions for the first two offences, but 15 senior officers had their sentences for falsifying evidence upheld.

Among them was Francesco Gratteri, now head of the national criminal investigation unit who recently oversaw the high-profile capture of a man suspected of bombing a school in Brindisi in May, killing a student.

Also convicted was Giovanni Luperi, now a senior officer with Italy’s intelligence service.

None of the officers was given more than five years, and with a three-year deduction thanks to a 2006 law designed to cut inmate numbers in Italian jails they will not serve jail time. But they must be suspended from duty for five years.

“By rights the suspension is immediate and Luperi and Gratteri shouldn’t turn up for work tomorrow,” said Ezio Menzione, a lawyer who has represented activists. “I am very happy: this is the first time an Italian court rules that such a large number of senior officers could not have not known what was going on.”

Mark Covell, the British activist who was left in a coma with eight broken ribs and a shredded lung after police set upon him outside the school, had mixed feelings. “It’s legal history and I am overjoyed, but they did try to kill me and none are going to jail, so is this justice?”

Antonio Manganelli, Italy’s senior police officer, said the police would, “accept the sentence with utmost respect and commit to the constant improving of training with regard to the complex field of order and public security”.

Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/jul/06/italy-g8-police-appeal