Police Torture in Genoa

Jul 26, 2001

The following two articles were published by the biggest-selling Italian daily newspaper La Repubblica, on Thursday 26 July.

We published the first article on our website previously, but this is a better translation.

Italian Cop: “Everything is True”

A policeman from the Bolzaneto Flying Squad, whose name and rank is known to La Repubblica – although for reasons of confidentiality we have decided to keep it anonymous – tells us about the G8′s ‘Chilean night’.

“Sadly everything is true. And it’s even worse than that. I’ve still got the stench in my nostrils from that night, of the shit from those arrested, given they weren’t allowed to go to the toilet. But that night began a week ago, when a hundred officers of the Prisons Service riot squad arrived here in Bolzaneto.”
This is the first of many worrying, and unknown, descriptions of that dramatic Saturday night at the G8. Our interviewee admits: “there is still a lot of fascism within the police service. There is a subculture, and so many young officers can be easily influenced – and many of us were applauding that night. But it was the Prisons Service riot squad which was massacring people, not us.”

But what about the systematic beatings in the school? “That was us, the police. [ª] It was madness, both for the victims and for our reputation. That evening lots of people were swearing in police headquarters, because if the news had reached the 20,000 people who were waiting to leave from Brignole station, we would have risked an insurrection.”

The transformation of the Bolzaneto police station into a lager (prison camp) began the Monday before, with the arrival of the Prison Service riot squad [ª] they took over the buildings which had already been set aside as a prison weeks before the G8 summit.

The gym became the arrival and identification area. All those arrested were brought here, and whoever had documents showed them; everyone was finger-printed. Beside the gym on the left, next to the tennis courts, there was a small building which had been specifically rebuilt as a jail for the summit period. There were two large rooms at the entrance, and until late on Sunday morning, the deputy commander of the Genoa Special Branch, along with some of his men and some carabiniere, were in command.

“What happened at the school, and then continued here at Bolzaneto, was a suspension of people’s rights, a big hole opened up in the Constitution. I tried to speak to other officers, and you know what they told me? ‘We’ve got nothing to worry about, our backs are covered’.”

“The gates were continually opening and as people got out of the vans they were hit. They made them stand up against the wall. Once they got inside they banged their heads against the wall. They pissed on some of them. And they beat others up if they didn’t sing faccetta nera. [A fascist hymn] One girl was vomiting blood and they just stood by watching her. They threatened to rape some girls with their truncheons” [ª]

And what did you lot do? “There weren’t many of us. Most of us were still in Genoa protecting the red zone. [ª] There were some like me who didn’t try hard to stop things, and now we’re ashamed.”

What would have happened if the Prisons Service riot squad wasn’t there? “I don’t think there would have been all that violence. Our commanding officer is a hard man, but he’s old fashioned as well. He has a sense of morals and he knows how to educate his men. We call him Rommel.”

Racist and Fascist Police: “Something the Whole of Europe Should Talk About”
Alfonso De Munno is a 26 year old freelance photographer from Rome. He has got long light-brown hair and blue eyes, but he’s also got a fractured foot, a cracked rib, a swollen face and a body full of bruises. He tells his story in an excited but lucid fashion.

“I was taken to Bolzaneto at about 4.30pm on Saturday. The Finance Police had already beaten the shit out of me as I was taking some photos of the Black Block. I was taken to the police barracks in a police van, with about twenty others. My hands were tied tightly together with small black plastic strips. We were pushed out of the van and welcomed with trucheon blows and insults: ‘Why don’t you phone Bertinotti or your mate Manu Chao?’ The soundtrack of this horror movie is a repetitive chant which the riot police know by heart. And unfortuanately, I can now remember every word as well:

one two three, viva Pinochet
four five six, kill all the dirty yids
seven eight nine, hang wogs out on the line

I end up in the last room, and get another dose of kicks and punches. I’m lying on the floor, as I can no longer get up: my foot is fractured and I’ve got a lot of pain down one side. I could still see some horrifying scenes: a Swedish girl being dragged away by her hair, the riot police putting their cigarettes out on the hands of a French man. One boy was pissing himself, either out of fear or because he couldn’t hold it in anymore. None of us are allowed to move. A fat policeman comes into the room and starts to savagely beat a boy because ‘I saw him at the demo and he was insulting me.’ A few minutes later a carabiniere passes by and tells the other two policemen: ‘We’d better not let the riot police in here’.”

“Things get even worse when the Prisons Service riot police turn up: I’ve never seen such violence in my entire life. They put on padded black gloves and went on hitting people for an hour. I still wake up dreaming about a bloke who had his head smashed against a wall, leaving a trickle of blood running down it. Then finally, about 4am, we were taken to Alessandria jail, where they hit us again. Then peace and quiet – if you can talk about peace and quiet after going through hell.”

Alfsonso was released on Monday evening. His lawyer is Simonetta Crisci, and they intend to lay charges of grievous bodily harm. He’s back home now, but he can’t sleep, and today he has a hospital appointment. Neither at Bolzaneto, nor anywhere else, was he given any kind of medical help. “I want a public trial about what happened at Bolzaneto. It should be something exemplary, something the whole of Europe should talk about.”

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