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Friday, 27 July, 2001, 19:38 GMT 20:38 UK
Italian press questions police actions

The allegations that Italian police brutally attacked protesters at the Genoa summit have been the main topic of Italy's newspapers on Friday.

La Stampa called for the judicial authorities to get to the bottom of eye-witness accounts which accuse the police of violating "the rules of a democratic state".

We are forced to conclude that the Interior Ministry and its structures were either unprepared or incompetent

La Repubblica
"Not even the condemnation of those who devastated a city during two days of real urban guerrilla warfare can be used as an alibi to cover up the responsibility of whoever ordered or tolerated abuses and illegal acts by the security forces," the paper says.

But it does not expect any trouble for the government despite the severity of the allegations.

"Strengthened by public opinion, which by a large majority is on his side and on the side of the carabinieri, [Prime Minister Silvio] Berlusconi and his cabinet will be able to overcome any parliamentary obstacles without too suffering too much damage in the next few days by merely avoiding over-hasty absolutions and official cover-ups."

This outcome would not satisfy the left-leaning daily, La Repubblica.

"The floodlights and the thousand video cameras that filmed the streets and squares in Genoa hour after hour have been switched off, but the Genoa issue remains loudly open and calls for clarity, truth and justice," it declares.

The paper criticises a speech made by the interior minister on Thursday which it complains did not clarify matters.

"Everyone has written that confronted with the most violent attacks, the security forces lost their cool - and this is possible as far as individual men are concerned.

Daniel McQuillan
Almost all the arrested protesters have been released
"But how were these men and these units trained? What were they expecting in front of their shields? What kind of preparation - including psychological preparation - had they been given? And most important of all, what precise, specific instructions were they given about the use of fire-arms?" the paper asks.

"We are forced to conclude that the Interior Ministry and its structures were either unprepared or incompetent."

It seems the paper's readers agreed. In an online poll, 95% of them said they thought a parliamentary commission should be set up.

The English language paper, Italy Daily, also notes that the police's credibility has been damaged.

"Police initially claimed the GSF was providing sanctuary to anarchists. But the release of almost all of those arrests, coupled with reports that detainees - many of them foreign - were beaten at a police station, has stoke criticism in the foreign press".

But not all the Italian media is convinced there is a case to bring against the security forces.

Roman Mantovani of the Refounded Communists offered another hypothesis to news organisation.

"There was a plot an accord between international intelligence services," he said. The plot, he said, meant the prime minister and interior minister "might not have known" of the coming violence.

And the daily Libero has even started a "Defend the Carabinieri" campaign.

Readers can contribute to a bank account to cover legal expenses for the 20-year-old police officer, Mario Placanica, who allegedly shot dead a protester during the riots.

See also:

27 Jul 01 | Europe
Italian PM: No Genoa cover-up
26 Jul 01 | UK
G8 Briton 'feared for life'
22 Jul 01 | Europe
Genoa counts the cost
22 Jul 01 | Europe
Eyewitness: Genoa police raid
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