Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Unexpected crumbs of justice - from Italy!

Bringing the police to justice is a rare and beautiful thing. Bringing them to justice in a state that is moving ever closer to fascism is still rarer, but it's happened. There is good news from Italy - and you haven't heard me say that for a while.

Mark Covell (right) was one of a number of activists who travelled to Genoa to protest against the G8 summit in 2001. Like many there he was an unashamed anti-capitalist. He wanted to see a world run for the millions not the millionaires - to coin a phrase. In Genoa there were literally hundreds of thousands ready to fight for a better world.

Mark was acting as an online sub-editor and editor of a printed bulletin for Indymedia working full time from their site in the city, sending out coverage of the protests and especially the police actions. Their response was absolutely brutal and was targeted across the movement, physically assaulting pacifists and anarchists alike (and everyone in between). Hundreds were arrested and/or beaten as they attempted to breach the "red zone" that surrounded the summit. Carlo Guilani was shot dead.

When the police raided the school Indymedia were set up in there's little doubt that they hoped to stop their role in telling the world what was happening in Genoa. They didn't want video footage of beatings and brutality being broadcast across the world. Whilst a continuation of their violence during the day this was also a no holds barred attack on the media.

The riot police set on Mark outside the building. At the time he described how a line of fifty police entering the building each gave him a kick in turn as they passed. When they were finished "He was left with eight broken ribs, a shredded lung, a broken hand, 16 missing teeth and was in a coma for two days." He's lucky to be alive let alone seeing some justice done in court.

Forty five policemen were on trial for their parts in the torture and assault on this independent journalist. Berlusconi had hoped to suspend the case (as well as the case against him) in order to focus on "more serious crimes" but he wasn't able to get his way and fifteen of those on trial have been convicted of far from trivial offences.

"The stiffest sentence was handed to camp commander Antonio Gugliotta who was given five years, while the others received between five to 28 months." The judge had hoped to give stiffer sentences but lamented the fact that there were no laws against torture in Italy.

My best wishes go to Mark on this happy occasion, and whilst seeing some of those responsible being held to account may not be everything we could hope for, this kind of ruling comes along so rarely it can't be seen as anything but a stunning victory.


mish said...

Unfortunately it sounds like none of them will actually spend any time in jail - http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/jul/16/italy.g8

Jim Jay said...

Thanks for this Mish... excuse me whilst I boil with rage...

The statute of limitations mentioned in the article is the product of the attempt by Berlusconi (that I refered to in the piece) to squash "minor" offences like these and B's own corruption scandal.

I hadn't realised that it would result in quashing these men's jail terms - although the one piece of good news is that the victims will still be able to recieve compensation amounting to a total (not each) of millions of pounds.


I also notice that ministers are saying it shows the violence was down to a few bad apples. Pah!

Aaron said...

I can't believe how bad it's getting in certain places. It's just like the Roma thing that happened in Italy recently.. it is just outrageous.