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17 July 2008updated 24 Sep 2015 11:01am

The hell of Bolzaneto

Leading Italian Green politician Monica Frassoni on the brutality of Italian police at the Genoa G8

By Monica Frassoni

After more than 180 sessions, involving 360 witnesses, sentences for the 2001 Genoa police brutality against G8 demonstrators were announced this week.

Of the 46 accused – civil, military and prison police – 30 were declared not guilty. The remaining 16 including police and prison officers were sentenced to minor punishments.

So what happenen in the dark hours on the 21st to 22nd July 2001 in the Bolzaneto barracks where those arrested were taken?

Hell, as the public prosecutor described it, explicitly stating that in Bolzaneto that night torture was practised and the most elementary human rights were brutally violated.

The death of one of the young demonstrators, Carlo Giuliani, the unsually wild beatings, the pictures shown on TVs had a strong impact on Italian and European public opinion in the summer of 2001.

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After four years, in October 2005, finally, the trial started and considering that the Italian justice allows two appeal stages, more years will have to go by before the formal final judgement.

All analysts agree that no-one will ever spend one single day in jail, nor pay a single euro in damages for the violence which injured nearly 300 injured people and left some permanently traumatised.

The heaviest sentence was five years in jail for the police officer responsible for the Bolzaneto site – a term that will expire in January 2009 thanks to new laws by the latest Berlusconi government and because of the eternal time that trials take in Italy means the statute of limitations will kick in.

The police officer in question, Antonio Biagio Gugliotta, invented the swan position – the detainees had to stand for up to one full night and day facing a wall, with open legs and arms up. They were repeatedly hit kicked and insulted and obliged to chant Uno, due, tre, viva Pinochet! or the more Mussolini
tasting Duce! Duce!

Mind you, Italian institutions know how to be Scandinavian and operate efficiently. But the malfunctiong Italian judiciary has no chance in a country where one of the most successful exports is called the mafia.

Alas, the rule of law is still not one of Italy’s strong points.

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