Socialist Worker

Genoa protester: ‘I’m still angry at Blair’s support for the police’

by Matthew Cookson
Issue No. 2111

Campaigners who faced violence and illegal detention at the hands of the Italian police in Genoa seven years ago have welcomed the conviction of some of those involved.

British protester Rich Moth was beaten and arrested at the Diaz school in Genoa – which was being used as dormitory – on the night of 21 July 2001.

He was one of many, including four others from Britain, taken to the Bolzaneto detention centre.

Rich told Socialist Worker, “I was pleased to hear there had been some convictions of police officers involved in holding people at Bolzaneto.

“This is the first time that the Italian state has acknowledged that what went on was a an abuse of power, but it’s a shame that the police officers’ political masters have not been held to account.

“I am still angry with the British government for what it did while we were being held.

“The US and Spanish consulates managed to get in to check on their citizens but the British government failed to do the same.

“And I will never forget that a spokesperson for Tony Blair said, ‘The Italian police had a difficult job to do. The prime minister believes that they did that job.’

“That gave the Italian police support in everything they did to protesters.”

Matt Foot, a criminal defence solicitor who represented Rich Moth and fellow protester Nicola Doherty, said, “My initial view of the judge’s sentences was one of delight. It is very rare for the state to even get prosecuted for this kind of abuse. Just look at what happened in the case of the Birmingham Six or the Guildford Four in Britain.

“The Italian judge made some very good comments about the systemic nature of the violence and how it was a conspiracy of abuse.

“Even if the convictions are not complete justice, they are testament to the campaigners and a brave prosecutor, and to a level of abuse that couldn’t be ignored.”

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Tue 22 Jul 2008, 19:22 BST
Issue No. 2111
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