As in 2015 and with even more detailed reasons, the European Court of Human Rights again condemns Italy for the “Mexican butchery“, as it was called by the then-assistant chief of the first mobile Rome Department, Michelangelo Fournier.
This is how he defined the actions of the police during the G8 summit in Genoa in 2001 within the Diaz school and the Pascoli school, where the press center and the legal department had been set up.
The Strasbourg judges explicitly define it as “torture”, and ruled in favor of 29 of the 42 plaintiffs (Bartesaghi Gallo and others) and for violating Article 3 of the Convention, they condemned the Italian government to compensate victims with amounts ranging from €45,000 to 55,000 each, for a total of about €1.4 million.
The action of breaking in the two schools was “planned” by the police and, therefore, the ”use of uncontrolled violence” could have been avoided, states the ECHR.
Also, since the 2015 Cestaro judgment, Italy still has “deficiencies in its legal system regarding the punishment of torture.” This is why those who have been held responsible for that deranged night of violence haven’t been punished adequately, charged only with minor offences that soon became statute barred.
The words of Strasbourg reach the Justice Committee of the House, where the ugly piece of legislation that introduces the crime of torture in our criminal justice system is undergoing the fourth reading. Their effect is the same as when a teacher suddenly comes back to the classroom. All the amendments were rejected and the bill will be presented in plenary session at the end of June.
The belief that these days you cannot expect any better from this beautiful country, is leading to a race towards the approval of a text that lately the European Council and dozens of associations have denounced as the “scam law”, considered unsuitable and far from the UN conventions and the recommendations of the ECHR.
Take, for example, the specific offense for a public officer, not given any consideration whatsoever because of the protests by some police unions (to the detriment of the majority of the police). In the ruling made public yesterday, Strasbourg noted that on the night between July 20th and 21st 2001, when inside the two schools “multiple and repeated violent acts, of an absolute severity,” were committed, “the police was not facing an emergency situation, it was not an immediate threat that required a proportional response to the potential risks.”
The Court “believes that officers had the opportunity to plan the intervention of the police, analyze all available information and take into account the situation of tension and stress that the agents had been subjected to in the previous 48 hours.” But, “despite the presence in Genoa of experts belonging to the high police hierarchy, no specific Directive was issued on the use of force and the agents were not given suitable guidelines at this crucial point.”
In substance, the European Court highlights this time that the torture and inhuman and degrading treatment inflicted “with serious physical and psychophysical damages” to defenceless people were not unpredictable. They were not the outcome of a situation simply gotten out of hand. And in the meantime, nothing has changed.
According to Amnesty International Italy, the condemnation of the ECHR is “good news” because “it helps the collective memory” and “stresses the need to strengthen the culture of human rights among the police forces.”
But the bill in the pipeline to the Chamber, in the words of MDP Senator Felice Casson, who was among the signatories of the text before “it was turned around in the Senate”, will “be difficult to apply by our judiciary branch, from a practical point of view,” and “we will have clear episodes of torture that will never be punished.”
And to the European Council, which two days ago asked for a type of offense without any possible clemency, the Italian Criminal Courts Bar Association responds not to worry, “because to make ineffective the rule on torture, we do not require amnesties, pardons nor prescriptions: it will be enough for Parliament to approve this bill on torture as it is. “
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