Monday, August 15, 2011

The Slippery Slope to a Fascist Europe

Thanks Morris, for reminding me about these events. I've always worried that a lack of democracy in the European Union was the start of a slippery slope downwards into fascism. This timeline seems to confirm my worst fears:



Ghosts of G8 haunt Genoa By Chris Summers and Irene Peroni BBC News Website More than 70 Italian police officers, many of them senior commanders, are about to go on trial accused of orchestrating a campaign of police brutality at the G8 summit in Genoa in 2001 and then organising a huge cover-up. Before 9/11 and the arrival on the scene of al-Qaeda, the western world's Public Enemy Number One was the violent anti-globalisation protesters who disrupted several major summits. “ We are prosecuting the commanders, those who had the responsibility for the whole action. They are the ones who ordered it and then ordered the cover-up ” Enrico Zucca Prosecutor Certain anarchist groups, such as Black Bloc, revelled in attacking police and smashing up shops belonging to global brands such as McDonald's, Nike and Starbucks. The level of violence at summits rose from Seattle in 1999 (World Trade Organisation summit) to Washington DC the following year (World Bank/IMF summit). There were also riots at an EU summit in Gothenburg in June 2001. So when the leaders of the G8 nations, including Tony Blair and George W Bush, arrived in the Italian city of Genoa in July 2001 everybody knew what was in store. The vast majority of the 100,000 anti-globalisation protesters were peaceful but a small minority were intent on violence. They clashed repeatedly with police on the streets close to the Red Zone, the fenced-off area where the summit was taking place. On the Friday a protester, Carlo Giuliani, was shot dead by police and his death ramped up the tension and mutual hatred. The summit ended on the Saturday afternoon and the clashes died away. But just before midnight on 21 July 2001 a squad of around 200 masked riot police officers, armed with batons and shields, arrived at a school two miles from the Red Zone. The Armando Diaz school complex was being used to house dozens of protesters. Across the street was an alternative media centre being used by Indymedia journalists such as Mark Covell, who was one of five Britons staying at the Diaz. Mr Covell was beaten unconscious and received several broken ribs, a fractured hand and the loss of all his front teeth. British victims Mark Covell, then aged 33, from London Norman Blair, 38, from Newport, Wales Dan McQuillan, 35, from London Nicola Doherty, 26, from Elgin, Scotland Richard Moth, 32, from London Other injuries included an American who was kicked so hard in the groin that he will never be able to father children. Forty of those arrested at the Diaz were taken to a holding centre at Bolzaneto, outside Genoa. There they were submitted to physical and verbal abuse, including being threatened with rape by officers who were singing fascist-era songs. The international media was then duped into believing the Diaz was a hotbed of violent resistance. Two Molotov cocktails were planted and police also showed off an array of knives, sledgehammers and pickaxes which they claimed to have found on the premises. One enterprising officer, Massimo Nucera, also claimed to have been stabbed and produced a damaged jacket to prove it. Tests on the jacket later showed the stabbing was faked, and it later emerged the penknives had been used to prepare food in the school kitchen and the tools were from a nearby building site. Mr Covell told BBC News Website: "Everybody staying at Diaz was peaceful. We had nothing to do with Black Bloc. They found nothing in that building which was incriminating. It was a conspiracy to justify the brutality with trumped-up charges." By the time the truth emerged the world's media had lost interest in Genoa and the public was left only with the memory of riots by unkempt hooligans. A Downing Street spokesman said at the time: "The Italian police had a difficult job to do. The prime minister believes they have done that job." More than 70 officers, including the second-highest ranking officer in Italy's anti-terrorist unit, Franco Gratteri, face charges ranging from false arrest to aggravated slander and abuse of office. There are separate trials relating to Diaz and Bolzaneto. Because police at the Diaz that night were all masked and did not have numbers or names on their uniforms - such identification is not required by law in Italy - it was impossible to attribute acts of violence to individual officers. Only one, Luigi Fazio, has been charged with assault. So the prosecutor, Enrico Zucca, has targeted the commanders. He told BBC News: "We are prosecuting the commanders, those who had the responsibility for the whole action. They are the ones who ordered it and then ordered the cover-up." He said he had come under political pressure from all sides to drop the charges but he insisted the trial would go ahead. "Every political party in Italy wants to keep their distance from this matter. We have come under political pressure to drop it, not in a direct way but indirectly," said Mr Zucca. “ Everybody staying at Diaz was peaceful...They found nothing in that building which was incriminating. It was a conspiracy to justify the brutality with trumped-up charges ” Mark Covell The SILP police union represents several of those on trial. National secretary Claudio Giardullo told the BBC News Website: "In the months before the G8 in Genoa, the government built up a law and order strategy of a military type, which was meant to have a heavy-handed approach in maintaining law and order. "The focus was more on this than on preventing violence and defending the city of Genoa. "I am not saying there were any written guidelines or orders in this sense, but by not saying that clashes (between police and demonstrators) must be avoided at any cost you create all preconditions for incidents to take place." 'We trust the judiciary' He added: "The Italian police trust the judiciary and want the truth to be ascertained as soon as possible. Personal responsibilities must be established, and those who have made mistakes must pay. “ The Italian police trust the judiciary and want the truth to be ascertained as soon as possible. Personal responsibilities must be established, and those who have made mistakes must pay ” Claudio Giardullo National secretary, SILP police union "But generalising would be a mistake. A relationship of trust between police forces and society is fundamental, because this prevents divisions which don't allow a democracy to work properly." It is not only the police who are facing justice as a result of the events of July 2001. The trial of 26 alleged rioters began last year and is only halfway through. The Genoa Justice Campaign, set up by the mother of Sara Bartesaghi, one of the injured demonstrators, is demanding a full apology for the police's actions by the Italian government. It also wants those injured, arrested and deported to be fully compensated. Preparing for next summit The events of Genoa 2001 are a salutary reminder to British police as they prepare to "welcome" anti-globalisation protesters to the next G8 summit at Gleneagles. The hotel, near the Scottish town of Auchterarder, is hosting the next summit in July. Its remote location has been chosen to help security arrangements. Chief Superintendent Brian Powrie of Tayside Police, who is in charge of policing the summit, told BBC News: "We have been planning for a year now, looking at all the contingencies to make sure we have a fully equipped, highly trained, flexible resource to police both the summit and any other events related to it. "We have also been looking at the security surrounding a number of large scale events, including previous G8 summits, sharing intelligence and working with other agencies." Story from BBC NEWS: Published: 2005/02/07 10:09:30 GMT © BBC 2011


Genoa riot evidence 'disappears' By Adam Blenford BBC News Key evidence in the trial of 29 Italian police officers charged over violence during the 2001 G8 summit in Genoa has vanished, police say. Two Molotov cocktails allegedly planted by police in a school used as a base by anti-globalisation protesters can no longer be found. The bombs are seen as crucial physical evidence against many of the defendants in the high-profile trial. The police are accused of brutality and perjury over a raid on the Diaz school. The petrol bombs - expected to be a key piece of evidence in the case - were due to be presented in court this week. Prosecutors now fear that the case could collapse, allowing many of the high-ranking defendants to walk free. Case at risk The apparent disappearance of important evidence sparked strong reactions within Italy. “ I'm a bit shocked and numb at the state of the Italian judiciary ” Mark Covell British journalist injured in Genoa The presiding judge called for an immediate explanation. The Reform Communist party - part of Prime Minister Romano Prodi's centre-left coalition government - has asked for a parliamentary investigation. Mark Covell, a British journalist who suffered serious injuries in the Diaz raid, told the BBC News website the disappearance could endanger the whole trial. "They have spent 20 million euros (£13m) on this and if these Molotov cocktails aren't found it could all be for nothing," he said. "I'm a bit shocked and numb at the state of the Italian judiciary. "But we can't calculate the full impact of this yet. We will have to wait and see." Police hopeful One police officer, Francesco Borre, told Italy's La Repubblica newspaper that police routinely kept records of what they received and handed over. He said he believed the responsibility for keeping the Molotov cocktails rested with Genoa's police, known as the Digos - the same unit under investigation by the court. The secretary general of the Italian police union, Claudio Giardullo, held out hope that the trial could continue. "Because the Molotov cocktails were actually photographed before they disappeared, the material need to have the bottles has been lessened," he told the BBC. "It is up to the magistrate to decide whether the evidence is fundamental to the trial. "Police will hold an investigation about this - it is in their own interest," he added. Political priority The trial centres on a raid carried out on the night of 21 July 2001. Nearly 300 officers, most dressed in full riot gear, forced their way into the Diaz school, which was being used as a base by anti-globalisation protesters. Dozens of people were injured in the raid, as police also smashed windows and destroyed computers. The two Molotov cocktails found inside the school were originally cited as evidence that the protesters were planning violence. But reports soon emerged that the bombs were planted in the school by police themselves. Prime Minister Prodi has made the swift conclusion of the trial a priority, and has promised to investigate the conduct of the police. Story from BBC NEWS: Published: 2007/01/19 14:33:17 GMT © BBC 2011

July 2008

Italy officials convicted over G8 An Italian court has found 15 officials guilty of mistreating protesters following violent protests at the G8 meeting in the city of Genoa in 2001. A judge handed down prison sentences ranging from five months to five years to the accused - who include police, prison officials and two doctors. Another 30 defendants were cleared of charges including assault. Protesters said they were beaten after being strip-searched by police. The prosecution said they were tortured. All of those convicted are expected to appeal against the guilty verdicts. The BBC's David Willey in Rome says it is unlikely that any of those sentenced will actually serve time in prison because their offences will have expired under Italy's statute of limitations before the appeal process is completed. However, the Italian government will be forced to pay out millions of pounds to those who were victims of police brutality during their detention. Organised brutality The 2001 meeting of the G8 in the northern Italian city of Genoa was one of the most violent in the group's history. Tens of thousands of demonstrators converged on the city. Street-battles between demonstrators and police left one protester dead and hundreds of others injured. Police were accused of organised brutality after launching an unauthorised raid on a high school where protesters were camping during the summit. Scores of people were arrested during the raid and taken to a temporary prison camp outside Genoa, at Bolzaneto. Among them were protesters from Italy, Britain, Poland and Ireland. Prosecutors said those arrested were beaten, made to sing fascist songs, and that some women were stripped naked, had their heads shaved and were threatened with rape. Doctor jailed The commander of the camp, Biagio Gugliotta, was sentenced to five years - the heaviest penalty handed out on Monday. The chief doctor at the Bolzaneto camp, Giacomo Toccafondi, was given a 14-month sentence. He was accused of failing to inform authorities after some of the detainees were sprayed with asphyxiating gas. Most of the others convicted were police officers. One of the prosecutors in the case, Patrizia Petruziello, said that 40 protesters who were arrested suffered "four out of five" of the European Court's criteria for "inhuman and degrading treatment". The trial has lasted nearly three years. Story from BBC NEWS: Published: 2008/07/15 10:32:06 GMT © BBC 2011

Nov 2008

Top Italy G8 riot police cleared The most senior police officials charged in connection with the handling of riots at the G8 summit in Genoa, Italy, in 2001 have been cleared. A court in the northern Italian city sentenced 13 officers to prison and acquitted another 16. There were cries of "shame" from the public as the acquittal of the police chief was announced. The clashes were some of the worst in the summit's history. One protester died and hundreds of people were hurt. School operation This was the last of three major trials arising out of the rioting. Charges ranged from beating protesters to planting evidence and conducting arbitrary searches. The BBC's David Willey in Rome says many of the police officers on trial are still in service and some have even been promoted. Two of them are currently holding high-ranking posts in Italy's anti-terrorism unit and in the secret service. The prosecution had asked for sentences totalling more than 109 years but the sum was 35 years and seven months. A key focus of the trial was a police charge into a school where protesters were staging an alternative summit. Vittorio Agnoletto, a summit protest organiser and now an MEP, told Reuters news agency: "Today is one of the saddest days in the post-war history of the republic. "From now on police chiefs who allow their men to smash the heads and the backs of people sleeping peacefully can be sure of impunity and the guarantee of a fine career." But interior ministry undersecretary Alfredo Mantovano said the verdict showed the Italian police force was "healthy and deserves everybody's gratitude". Story from BBC NEWS: Published: 2008/11/14 00:21:50 GMT © BBC 2011


Genoa killing 'was self-defence' By Duncan Kennedy BBC News, Rome An Italian police officer who shot dead an anti-globalisation protester in 2001 acted in self-defence, the European Court of Human Rights has ruled. Mario Placanica was one of thousands of security force members who fought with demonstrators at the G8 summit. But the court ruled the Italian government failed to carry out a full investigation of the incident. It awarded the family of Carlo Giuliani, who died, 40,000 euros (nearly $60,000; £35,000) in damages. The G8 summit in Genoa in July 2001 was the scene of some of the most violent protests in recent years. Thousands of police were involved in clashes with demonstrators from various anti-globalisation groups. 'No excessive force' In the most serious incident, 23-year-old Carlo Giuliani was killed after being shot in the face by Mario Placanica, a police officer who was in a four-wheel drive. Mr Giuliani was attempting to throw a fire extinguisher into the four-wheel drive at the time. The vehicle than reversed over his body. The European Court of Human Rights, sitting in Strasbourg, has now ruled that the officer did not use excessive force. But the court did order the family of the dead man to receive 40,000 euros in damages from the Italian state because it had failed to open an inquiry into the planning and management of the policing operation at the summit. Mr Placanica was investigated for alleged murder but was later cleared. Dozens of other officers on duty have also faced a variety of trials accused of brutality against the demonstrators during and after the street protests. A number of low-ranking officers were found guilty, but are unlikely to face jail because of a combination of an amnesty that has been put in place and Italy's statute of limitations. Story from BBC NEWS: Published: 2009/08/25 18:00:12 GMT © BBC 2011


20 May 2010 Last updated at 16:20 Italy backs convicted Genoa G8 police Italian officials say they have full confidence in policemen convicted by an appeals court over violence at the G8 summit in Genoa in 2001. The officers, who were sentenced to up to five years in prison, are to remain in their posts pending a final appeal. In an original trial in November 2008, 13 officers were convicted, while 16 - including the most senior officers - were acquitted. The case concerns a raid in which dozens of protesters were injured. "These men continue to have the full confidence of the security services and the interior ministry," said Alfredo Mantovano, the interior ministry's under-secretary. He said he was confident that the Court of Cassation - Italy's highest court - would "dispel every shadow from the outstanding professionals of the security forces who find themselves in this situation". Late-night raid Among those who had their acquittals overturned on Tuesday were Francesco Gratteri, the former head of an anti-crime unit, and Vincenzo Canterini, the former head of Rome's rapid-reaction force. Gratteri was sentenced to four years in jail and Canterini to five. Also convicted was Spartaco Mortola, the former head of Genoa's anti-terrorism squad, who received a sentence of three years and eight months. A total of 25 people were convicted, and the 13 convicted in 2008 were given higher sentences, Ansa news agency reported. The 2001 G8 summit was marred by widespread violence between anti-globalisation protesters and the police, and several trials have been held. The late-night raid for which the police officers were convicted, took place at the Armando Diaz school, in which anti-globalisation demonstrators had been sheltering. In a separate incident one day before, a 23-year-old protester, Carlo Giuliani, was shot dead by a policeman.

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