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Genoa G8 appeal, Diaz school raid high ranking police officers convicted on appeal


On 18 May 2010, the third section of Genoa appeal court overturned the acquittal of several high level police officers present at the raid on the Diaz and Pascoli schools during the G8 summit in July 2001. The Diaz school had been made available by the city council as a dormitory for demonstrators, whereas the Pascoli school hosted a media centre, the Genoa Legal Forum, Indymedia and other activist media groups, as well as providing office facilities. One police official who was a defendant in the case, MF, described the scene that he witnessed as a "Mexican butchery". 93 people were arrested, 75 were taken to Bolzaneto where they suffered further violence in custody after the indiscriminate violence they were subjected to in the school (see Statewatch vol. 18 no. 4).

The sentence in the original trial acquitted 16 out of 29 defendants, including most high level officers, with the remaining 13 sentenced to a total of 35 years and seven months, and none of them likely to serve their sentences as a result of the statute of limitations and a general pardon (law 241/2006) that was passed in 2006 to ease prison overcrowding that condoned any sentences of under three years. The sentence appeared to set apart the responsibility of officers who enacted violent actions and those by officials, in spite of their presence at the scene, ruling out that there were responsibilities by the chain of command in the abuses.

The statute of limitations rules out imprisonment for all the defendants, but the ruling by the appeal court found 25 member of the police forces guilty of offences entailing sentences of between three years and eight months and five years, some of them entailing five-year bans on holding public office. The prison terms for officers who were convicted were also longer than in the first ruling, reaching a total of more than 85 years. The longest sentence was of five years for VC, head of the Rome flying squad whose members were identified as the leading culprits of the violence against demonstrators, who had already been convicted to four and a half years in the original trial. Ten four-year sentences were decreed, including those for FG and GL, respectively head of the crime section of the police and an official in AISI, the internal intelligence service. One official, PT, was sentenced to three years and nine months (see below), and thirteen members of the police were handed sentences of three years and eight months, including SM (former head of the Genoa Digos, the police special operations general directorate, who has since become the deputy police chief in Turin) and GC (the former deputy chief of Sco, the police central operations service). The sentence also confirmed the original acquittal of three officers, adding a fourth one to them, MB, who was accused of bringing a molotov cocktail into the school that would be used as evidence of the presence of members of the "black block" to justify the raid, whereas PT, who was accused for the same offence but was above him in rank, was sentenced to three years and nine months.

The interior ministry's undersecretary, Alfredo Mantovani, ruled out the possibility of any of those convicted being removed from their posts, because "they continue to enjoy the full trust of the security system and the Viminale [headquarters of the interior ministry]" and "the sentence does not speak the last words on the matter", as it overturns "what was established int he first ruling and will hence be examined by the Corte di Cassazione [Italy's highest appeal court]". He added that it is true that something improper did happen in the raid, but the sentence "fails to identify responsibilities and distinguish the different positions [of the defendants]". Fabrizio Cicchitto, head of the MPs of the Popolo della Libertà (PdL), the leading party in the government coalition, accused the sentence of "criminalising everything and everyone, making the no-global's most extreme theory its own", levelling charges at the police forces and defending the people "who caused very serious moral and material damage to the city of Genoa". Cicchitto admitted that there were "mistakes and misjudgements", but dismissed claims of a "repressive plan", because the police forces were "caught by surprise by the urban guerrilla unleashed by the black block and around 5,000 extremists".

The appeal court's sentence follows two other appeal rulings for the larger trials concerning events in Genoa in July 2001. The appeal into the abuses suffered by demonstrators in the make-shift prison fitted out in Bolzaneto barracks overturned 29 acquittals (convictions rose from 15 to 44 people) on 5 March 2010, whereas the appeal court's sentence in the trial against demonstrators resulted in less convictions (down from 24 to 10), while it increased the prison terms that they are serving (six of them for ten years or more, up to a maximum of 15 years). It drew a distinction between unprovoked vandalism by the so-called "black block" and street clashes during demonstrations in whose genesis the security forces' actions played a role.
A month later, on 17 June 2010, a further appeal trial in Genoa involving Gianni de Gennaro, the former head of the Italian police and current head of the Dipartimento per l'Informazione e la Sicurezza (DIS), in charge of the intelligence services and security system, saw him sentenced to a one year and four month sentence for the cover-up of events in Genoa.

The former head of the Genoa Digos SM (see above) was also convicted, receiving a one year and two month sentence. They were deemed responsible for putting pressure on Genoa police chief Francesco Colucci to change his testimony given to judges about who had ordered Roberto Sgalla, the interior ministry official responsible for communications, to go to the Diaz school to provide an official version to the press concerning the search, and about who was in charge of the operation. Colucci was intercepted talking on the telephone to SM (charged of connivance with De Gennaro) about "having to backtrack" on what he had told the press and having "thwarted the trial". The original trial had resulted in acquittals. De Gennaro responded by handing in his resignation, which was unanimously rejected by the Council of Ministers [the Cabinet] that confirmed its "complete trust in him". De Gennaro also enjoyed backing from the opposition's ranks, with the Partito Democratico (PD) senator Felice Casson arguing that "there is no legal obligation to resign until there is a final sentence from the Corte di Cassazione" and that he has "always worked well".

Sources

Corte di Appello di Genova, Dispositivo di Sentenza
, 18.5.2010

Repubblica, 18-19.5, 18-19.6.2010; Corriere della Sera, 18-19.5, 19.6.2010; il manifesto, 18-19.6.2010.

Previous Statewatch coverage:

Italy: G8 appeals, longer prison terms for demonstrators, more officers convicted, Statewatch News Online, March 2010

Italy: Making sense of the G8 trials and aftermath, Statewatch, vol. 18 no. 4, October-December 2008

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