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Reportage. The government settled before the European Court of Human Rights and agreed to pay victims €45,000 each.

Italy admits torture during G8 protests in 2001

It took 16 years for the Italian government to admit that the state practiced torture in Genoa during the G8 in 2001.

Italy closes six pending cases before the European Court of Human Rights for violation of article 3 of the Convention that prohibits torture and inhuman and degrading treatment. The plea agreement is an acknowledgment of guilt.

The six citizens, victims of violence inflicted in the Bolzaneto barracks, had requested the intervention of Strasbourg, denouncing the ineffectiveness of criminal convictions handed down by the Italian courts. In 2013, the Italian Supreme Court had rejected the request to appeal the torture crime. They agreed — the only ones among the 65 Italian and foreigner applicants — to the “amicable resolution” proposed by the government of Rome. The state will pay a sum of €45,000 each, for moral and material damages, as well as defense costs.

With the agreement accepted by Alfarano, Alessandra Battista, Marco Bistacchia, Anna De Florio, Gabriella Cinzia Grippaudo and Manuela Tangari, the government claims to have “acknowledged cases of ill-treatment similar to those suffered by those affected in Bolzaneto as well as the absence of appropriate laws.” And the European Court of Human Right reports “is committed to take all necessary measures to ensure compliance with the provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights in the future, including the obligation to conduct an effective investigation and the existence of criminal penalties to punish ill-treatment and torture.”

It was a somewhat ironic reference to a specific law on torture, explicitly required by Strasbourg and, until a few days ago, also by the U.N. Human Rights Committee. In fact, Rome’s position is so elusive that soon after the government put on record its commitment “to prepare specific training courses on human rights for law enforcement employees.”

These rulings are always welcome, but they are not enough. Because in Italy, torture is contemplated “structurally,” as pointed out by ECHR judgment on the Cestaro sentence, despite the fact that 50 percent of Italians do not believe it possible, according to a survey by Doxa Amnesty.

“For the last 30 years, Italy has been making commitments, and we hope that this time the Strasbourg Court isn’t the victim of unfulfilled promises,” says the president of Antigone, Patrizio Gonnella, who is “waiting for the ruling on the torture case of two prisoners in the Asti prison. This should be issued any day now.” On the case of these detainees, even before the ECHR, the Asti court itself pointed out that the alleged crime was torture, if only the offense — as defined by international conventions — were present in the Italian legal framework.

“When Italy acknowledges that, in addition to Diaz and Bolzaneto, the state has acted violently against free citizens in the streets and squares, it will be a real act of justice. If Carlo Giuliani, who never got his day in court because a judge archived the case, could get a case open, then it would really be a revolution for justice.” Those are the heartfelt words of Haidi Giuliani, the mother of the young man killed by a policeman in Alimonda Square.

For Nicola Fratoianni, secretary of the Italian Left who was among the protesters against the G8 in Genoa, “no compensation will ever erase what the Italian State was responsible for in those days.” Unfortunately on the same side, there was also the current Vice Minister of Justice, Gennaro Migliore.

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