snafu on Wed, 1 Aug 2001 23:39:51 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> G8: how to normalize the abnormal

>From Telepolis 1-08-01
Justice in the cross-fire of institutions
By Snafu/Subjesus

An images' bombing. The sequence of Carlo Giuliani's death, keeps looping,
over and over. Together with the riots, police charges, rain of tear-gases
and stones, devastations and fires, faces covered with blood, shot from
one thousand different angles. Images of a not so far war, not any more in
Palestine, Afghanistan, Ireland. A war exploded in Genova, Western Europe,
under the distracted eyes of the Great Eight, and then suddenly vanished
from the streets, as a flower of fire.

But, if the ghosts of this war keep popping up in the mediascape, the
disturbing images are nothing if compared to the direct reports of the
victims of police brutality. Testimonies of a blind and invisible
violence, unleashed in the dark of the school Diaz or amongst the opaque
walls of the Bolzaneto, Vercelli, Alessandria prisons. These oral
witnessing, coming from tens of English, Germans, French, Italian
demonstrators - all wildly beaten during and after the riots - leave the
deepest of the signs, indelible memories, beyond any magnetic recording.

- The reports of the unexposed

This is the story of Mark "Sky" Covell, an Indymedia UK reporter, 33 years
old, arrested during the raid of Saturday night at the Diaz school, and
beaten as "a human football". After being kicked several times, Covell
simulated an apparent death. A policemen touched his neck, and felt that
he was still alive, continued, with others, to beat him. After Covell fell
in a coma, he was recovered in a hospital, where he couldn't see anyone
for three days. He reported a hole in the lungs, some broken ribs and

This is the story of the freelance photographer Alfonso De Munno, 26
years, who was "deported" in the Genova prison of Bolzaneto on Saturday
afternoon reporting a broken foot, and other contusions. De Munno, who was
arrested during the riots whilst he was shooting pictures, was forced, as
many others, to stand for hours and hours in front of a white wall. He was
beaten from the back, from policemen singing a song like which was an
antisemitic and racist hymn to Pinochet. The story of the fascist songs
was repeated by many different witnesses: Bruno Lupi, 18 years, the son of
the the mayor of a small village called Monterotondo, was beaten with wet
rags filled with soaps, cursed, spitted in his mouth. His father, together
with Norman Blair, an English citizen of 38 years ended in the "lager" of
Bolzaneto announced a legal action against the Italian police.

Still, the most impressive report about Bolzaneto is given by Fabrizio
Ferrazzi, a 51-years old teacher of philosophy, arrested in the streets of
Genoa during a police assault against peaceful demonstrators. "The men
with the badge of GOM (Mobile Operative Groups, the special Penitentiary
Police accused of the heaviest brutalities) forced us to stand for hours
and hours, in front of a wall, and beat us with sticks on legs and
kidneys, in order not to leave visible signs. In the register office, they
constrained people to sign fake admissions of responsibility. A french
kid, charged with "pursued homicide", refused to sign a paper written in
Italian only.  He was sent between two lines of officers beating him up,
who convinced him to sign". Fabrizio Ferrazzi reported a deep wound on his
head, with 20 points of suture. He tells of a long march of terror, from a
police department to another, beaten up and blamed, psychologically
brutalized, forced to howl "Viva il Duce", until the arrival to Bolzaneto.
He also saw a Sicilian boy with a nipple piercing, that was brutally
ripped off. Other reports refer about cigarettes stubbed on the hands of
demonstrators, women threaten of rape with the police sticks and insulted
as "communist whores", boys kicked on their testicles.

- The cross-fire of the institutions

These stories tell us clearly that the abuses were practiced at all the
levels, by different police departments, from the barracks to the prisons.  
Tough, the cross-fire amongst different institutional bodies has already
started. Alfonso Sabella, responsible investigative department of the
Penitentiary Police, said that violences and abuses were surely in place,
but that the demonstrators reached the prisons already hurt. The Minister
of Justice, Castelli, said to have visited Bolzaneto on Saturday night,
but to not have noticed anything abnormal. His version is contradicted by
an anonymous policemen of the same department who said that the prison of
Bolzaneto was turned into a "lager" the Monday before the demonstrations,
by a group formed by 100 units.

As regard the police raid of Saturday night in the dormitory and the press
office of the Genoa Social Forum, the Minister of Interior Claudio Scajola
denies any responsibility, affirming to be informed of it only after its
execution. Scajola, and the Government in general, defend the police
operate, and accuse the oppositions of a political co-responsibility,
being all the police functionaries nominated by the precedent Government.  
Nevertheless, the temptation to use this episode to fire the Head of
Police, Claudio De Gennaro, is strong. Some voices at the Minister of
Interior, whisper that the raid at the school was an operation coordinated
by the Ros (high investigative agency of the Carabinieri) and by the
Police Sco (Central Operative Service) to put De Gennaro in difficulty,
after that the public image of Carabinieri was dirtied with blood. In
other terms, the Government defends the police operate, but it's ready to
substitute some heads with new nominees, more faithful to the current
administration. The internal enquiry commissioned to three police
officers, will probably give, in the next few hours, an answer in this
direction. The three officers found several "mistakes" in the direction of
the public order in the squares, and violences in the perquisition at the
GSF and in the prison of Bolzaneto. Nevertheless, the suspicion that the
decision of using the "iron fist", was entirely governmental remains high.
The raid at the Genoa Social Forum was coordinated by 13 officers, amongst
which there are Arnaldo La Barbera, Head of the antiterrorism department
(Ucigos) and Franco Gratteri, Director of Sco. The Government might have
guaranteed them a coverage.  Dropping them now, Scajola risks to get a
poisoned payback. What we will see in the next days is if the system of
crossed protections will keep, or new cracks will make fall the entire

- The opposition oscillates between challenge and compromise

On the other side, Genova signed the apparent re-birth of the Parliament
opposition. In particular, the Leftish Democrats (DS) are leading the
Ulivo coalition in a confrontation with the Government, also aimed to
recuperate a positive relationship with the historical militants and with
a part of the movement. As a result, the Ulivo required, until Wednesday,
the resign of the Minister of Interior and the institution of a Parliament
Commission of Enquiry, invested of the same powers of the magistrature.
The Government responded that the two request were in contradiction, being
impossible to institute any commission, since the opposition had already
expressed its judgment over Scajola's operate, presenting a motion of
mistrust for Scajola. Solicited by the President of the Republic, Carlo
Azeglio Ciampi, majority and opposition finally reached a deal, yesterday
evening, at the Deputies Room: the institution of an investigative
commission, that we'll make a quick job, without being invested of the
same powers of a proper Commission of Enquiry. Today, the motion of
mistrust is being voted at the Senate and, with any probability,

The political mediation supported by Ciampi and the moderated wings of
both the coalitions, leaves very small results in the hands of the Leftish
Democrats, which may insist for the institution of a proper Commission of
Enquiry at the Senate.  But the margins for a Commission that would make a
serious job, seem very reduced. The ex-fascist party Alleanza Nazionale,
whose leader and Vice PM Gianfranco Fini has been reluctant to any
political deal, is accusing, together with Silvio Berlusconi, the Left of
covering ideologically the extremists. According to Berlusconi, the
institution of the Commission of Enquiry would be "masochistic for the
image of Italy". The DS replies that the "fascist" police abuses are
connected to the presence of Alleanza Nazionale in a Government, and
threatens to continue the mobilization in the country, with a collection
of signatures and various demonstrations.

- The list of the desaparecidos drops

In this context, with half of the country on holiday, the Parliament
battle has the effect of normalizing what was , until few days ago,
abnormal and to obscure, at least on a media level, the spontaneous
initiative of the movement. After the big demonstrations of last Tuesday,
that brought in the streets hundreds of thousands people to protest
against police abuses, the Genoa Social Forum is mainly collecting video
footage, pictures and any documentation necessary to make circumstanced
denounces of the police operate. In particular, the nocturnal raid at the
school, requires a detailed reconstruction of the dynamic of the
perquisition. In its report, the police keeps claims to be assaulted in
the dark of the school by the demonstrators; the non confirmation of most
of the arrests states the contrary. But the policemen who wildly beaten
the demonstrators had their faces covered with kerchiefs. This is why the
lawyers of the Genoa Social Forum asked to the people who were in the
school, including foreigners, to come back in the school with the
Magistrature for a detailed reconstructions of the facts. This idea of the
collective denounce is proceeding also on the Bolzaneto's front. A German
association of victims is preparing the website, which will
be online in few days.  In the meantime the number of the arrested
continues to drop. Not more than 40 are still detected in the Italian
prisons. The list of the dispersed is dropping as well. The wish is that
the death of Carlo Giuliani will remain the only one.

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