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Diaz school shocker - no pigs go to jail

In town for the verdict of the trial of 29 police and officals invovled in a planning and executing the raid on the Scuola Diaz in Genoa, 2001, probably the biggest human rights abuse in the EU in recent decades. The raid was on the 5 storey school housing the indymedia centre and hundreds of protestors during the 2001 G8 mobilisation.

It was prepared months in advance and probably OK'd with the American security contingent, though the official and unchallenged story is that the country's top police units and heads of various national security services convened and mobilised at an hour's notice, in repsonse to some stones thrown in the vicinity.

Pic: Genoa 2001

The backdrop in Italy these weeks is of occupied universities up and down the country. Hardman Berlusco appeared on TV two weeks ago to announce that the occupation of public buildings was "a violence" and that "the forces of order" would intervene. At the end of the broadcast, and with cameras still rolling, an adviser approached him and whispered the single word which cracked his smile: "Diaz".

Because in collective memory here, Diaz was but the most recent, most violent and, importantly, most filmed of a continuum of incursions of the state into educational establishments. After Berlusconi's education minister's unilateral decree of 'reform's across the board, The students in Italy are ready for a fight, and Berlusconi reminded all of the link between their struggle and the Diaz trial.

In these days, Berlusconi's government presents an indestructible face, but behind the scenes, is finding itself needing to constantly manouvre to keep it's rising stars out of prison, to keep on top of the propaganda war and to keep riots from erupting.

The trial verdict date was already been moved twice, and the education minister's visit to Genoa moved to a secret time and location to avoid the prospect of 20,000 students mobilised in Genoa in time for the verdict, but this is small potatoes compared to the political strings pulled to protect the cops on trial, and in the end, Fini, who was ultimately responsible for the G8 operation.

Berlsco attempted to freeze all trials from 2001, effective as of the date of the Bolzaneto (barracks where G8 protestors were tortured) verdict, but even his own "quasi-"/ "proto-"/ "reformed-"/ neo-" fascist alliance voted this down and traded it for immunity from prosecution for him and three other heads of goverment.

The trial went ahead and officials were found guilty of various abuses, but a new law was passed effectively suspending all sentences for complex trials. So, sadly, no pigs in the slammer yet.

I say yet, because three of the defendants will still serve time, being on trial for other offences, ranging from punching a protestor on camera, through to rape while on duty (a cop who threatened protestors with rape at Bolzaneto has also raped five women in his custody at other times) and murder (the medical director of Bolzaneto turned out to be a Harold Shipman in his own right). For what it's worth, sentence for these is additional.

The Bolzaneto "imptuati" were mostly functionaries, but those on trial for Diaz included two heads of the political police (DIGOS), the national chief of flying squads(SCO) and his deputy, several local DIGOS and SCO heads, and many inspectors of Rome's notorious 7th Division. And in particular, Francesco Gratteri, now rising fast through the interior ministry, currently head of anti-terrorism.

These big fish escaped even the symbolic justice that the court had the power to order. The highest state agent sentenced was Canterini, the head of the squad which carried out the raid. This patsy had already been demoted to inspector and sent to Coventry (or it's rural Italian equivalent).

Two pigs filmed carrying the planted molotovs were sentenced, although Giovanni Luperi (now head of the internal security service) and Grutteri were with them and let off. The top cop who was recorded by phone tap offering to bring the molotovs to the scene was acquitted too.

One explanation offered after the event was that state prosuctor Zucca had created false hope among the public, bringing cases against those who, though guilty, could not be proved guilty 'in a judicial sense'. This is bullshit - just compare this strict 'judicial sense' to the experience of 25 demonstrators locked up last year for 'sacking and devastation'. Just like so many sentenced in Europeàs courts for small crimes, though no definitive evidence existed, they were at the scene and seemed like they fit the crime, so were assumed guilty.

What conclusions can we draw from Bolzaneto, Diaz and their fallout? Don't expect human rights in Italy? Don't expect the state to convict those that do it's work? Certainly most of those beaten up and framed at Diaz, though disappointed, are not entirely surprised.

One hard lesson I learnt on July 21st 2001, and I'm reminded of today, is that fighting the state is a difficult job and one we're barely prepared for, even when we do it by the quarter million. How different that night would have been, how many fewer would have been injured and suffered ongoing health problems, if only those in Diaz, rather than being asleep, unarmed and averse to violence, were more as the police described them.

Italy hosts the G8 again in summer 2009, on the island of La Maddalena, part of Sardegna. Berlusconi is prime minister again. It's probable that Graterri will be heading the security operation, and Luperi's boys will be poring over passport numbers and phone records in preparation. Round Two, anyone?

Source: http://www.wombles.org.uk/article2008112259.php