Page last updated at 10:32 GMT, Tuesday, 15 July 2008 11:32 UK

Italy officials convicted over G8

Italian police and protesters during G8 in Genoa, July 2001
There were extensive clashes during the G8 meeting in 2001

An Italian court has found 15 officials guilty of mistreating protesters following violent protests at the G8 meeting in the city of Genoa in 2001.

A judge handed down prison sentences ranging from five months to five years to the accused - who include police, prison officials and two doctors.

Another 30 defendants were cleared of charges including assault.

Protesters said they were beaten after being strip-searched by police. The prosecution said they were tortured.

All of those convicted are expected to appeal against the guilty verdicts.

The BBC's David Willey in Rome says it is unlikely that any of those sentenced will actually serve time in prison because their offences will have expired under Italy's statute of limitations before the appeal process is completed.

However, the Italian government will be forced to pay out millions of pounds to those who were victims of police brutality during their detention.

Organised brutality

The 2001 meeting of the G8 in the northern Italian city of Genoa was one of the most violent in the group's history.

Clashes between protesters and police in Genoa in 2001

Tens of thousands of demonstrators converged on the city.

Street-battles between demonstrators and police left one protester dead and hundreds of others injured.

Police were accused of organised brutality after launching an unauthorised raid on a high school where protesters were camping during the summit.

Scores of people were arrested during the raid and taken to a temporary prison camp outside Genoa, at Bolzaneto. Among them were protesters from Italy, Britain, Poland and Ireland.

Prosecutors said those arrested were beaten, made to sing fascist songs, and that some women were stripped naked, had their heads shaved and were threatened with rape.

Doctor jailed

The commander of the camp, Biagio Gugliotta, was sentenced to five years - the heaviest penalty handed out on Monday.

The chief doctor at the Bolzaneto camp, Giacomo Toccafondi, was given a 14-month sentence. He was accused of failing to inform authorities after some of the detainees were sprayed with asphyxiating gas.

Most of the others convicted were police officers.

One of the prosecutors in the case, Patrizia Petruziello, said that 40 protesters who were arrested suffered "four out of five" of the European Court's criteria for "inhuman and degrading treatment".

The trial has lasted nearly three years.

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