The Italian authorities are manoeuvring to stop the truth about their savage attacks on protesters at the Genoa G8 protests from coming out. They hope to use new laws, designed to protect president Berlusconi’s allies from being prosecuted, to prevent senior police officers from going to prison for attacking people demonstrating against the 2001 summit meeting.
The charges police face for damaging school buildings where protesters were sleeping, or for lying about the part they played in the violence, are being treated more seriously than those for inflicting serious injuries on protesters.
Giuliano Giuliani, whose son Carlo was killed by the police at Genoa, told Socialist Worker, “In this regime, crimes against the state are taken more seriously than crimes against property, and crimes against property are taken more seriously than crimes against people.
“What is being revealed by these cases is that people in uniform committed very serious abuses that went way beyond all rule of law and civilisation.
“It is clear that what happened came close to torture, but Italian law has no statutes to deal with this.”
Political pressure to establish the role of Berlusconi’s government in the violence is increasing.
Some Italian MPs are demanding a parliamentary commission to investigate what deputy prime minister Fini was doing at the police operations centre at the time of the police violence.
Richard Moth, a British protester, needed stitches to his head and leg after being batoned by police as he lay on the floor of the Diaz school in Genoa. He said that, even without successful prosecutions, the cases have had a big impact in Italy: “Of course myself and other victims of the police violence would like to see those responsible convicted when the trials begin in April.
“But the fact that we have got so far in the legal process is a big victory in itself. The Berlusconi government has shown its political support for the senior police officers charged with ordering the brutal attacks on us, in some cases promoting them to even more senior posts.
“However, activists in Italy have kept the profile of the case high, and this has been important not just to hold the police to account, but also because it is about defending our right to protest.
“It was the big demonstrations around Italy, following the attack on the Diaz school, that put pressure on the Italian government, eventually leading to our release. We cannot let violence like that at Genoa go unchallenged. Nor should we let it silence our protests.”
Richard hopes there will be “thousands of us protesting at the next G8 summit in Gleneagles, Scotland, in July”.
Tom Behan is a senior lecturer in Italian at the University of Kent