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Thursday, 2 August, 2001, 13:59 GMT 14:59 UK
Expats condemn Italian police
riot police
The signatories are ashamed by the police actions
A group of Italian citizens living abroad has condemned the behaviour of the Italian police during violent clashes outside the G8 summit in Genoa.

In a letter to the Italian President, Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, 400 Italians living all over the world say they are "ashamed and embarrassed" about the impression people were given of their country.

Indiscriminate use of violence by the police forces ... are all typical of an authoritarian and irresponsible regime

"Leaving aside any opinions on globalisation, it is unacceptable that in a democratic country the most fundamental civil rights have been brutally violated," they wrote.

"We believe that the inability to protect hundreds of thousands of peaceful demonstrators, the arbitrary arrests, detentions and searches; the disproportionate and indiscriminate use of violence by the police forces ... are all typical of an authoritarian and irresponsible regime."

Beatings and arrests

Roberto Veneziani, a PhD student at the London School of Economics, is one of the people behind the letter.

Spanish protester
Protesters say they were beaten during a police raid
He said that in under a week they had drummed up significant support.

The 400 signatories range from researchers and clerks to consultants for organisations such as the UN and the European Commission.

Anti-capitalist protesters said they were beaten and kicked by police and were refused access to lawyers on their arrest during clashes outside the G8 summit in Genoa in July.

Over the course of the summit, police arrested more than 280 people and one protester was shot dead.

The Italian authorities have come under fire for their handling of the protests, but Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has reflected Italian public opinion by voicing support for the security forces.

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