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Last Updated: Friday, 14 October 2005, 02:10 GMT 03:10 UK
G8 summit police lied, says report
By Chris Summers
BBC News Website

The trial of 28 police officers accused of beating up anti-globalisation protesters during the G8 summit in Genoa in 2001 is due to start in Italy. The BBC News website has seen a copy of the prosecutor's report.

Leaked copy of the report
The prosecutor's report will be the basis for the trial
The chief prosecutor investigating an Italian police raid on an anti-globalisation protesters' base in Genoa during the 2001 G8 summit concluded "the police must have lied" about the operation, according to a leaked copy of his report.

Ninety-two demonstrators were injured, several of them seriously, during the raid on the city's Armando Diaz School on the night of 22 July 2001.

All of the officers deny the charges against them, and they are not the only people accused in connection with the events of July 2001.

Last year, 26 people went on trial accused of taking part in the riots which shook the city hours before the Diaz raid. Their trial is ongoing.

The police claimed they raided the school, which was being used as a base by the Genoa Social Forum, after a patrol came under attack from a hail of stones nearby.

Senior police officers said the protesters resisted entry violently and they later claimed to have discovered a cache of weapons, including pick-axe handles, staves and a number of unused Molotov cocktails.

But senior police officers later admitted the petrol bombs had not been found in the school but had actually been discovered earlier in the day at Corso Italia in central Genoa, the scene of violent demonstrations by anarchists.

It also emerged that the "weapons" were actually from a nearby building site.

In his report, prosecutor Enrico Zucca writes: "Powerful evidence of the videos and photos provided by journalists clearly disproved the official version.

The Undercurrents film
Powerful evidence of the videos and photos provided by journalists clearly disproved the official version
Enrico Zucca

"In fact, the institutions continued to deny that the high number of injuries had anything to do with police conducts during the arrests.

"The magistrates' initial conclusions seemed to indicate that a disturbing yet simple answer lay at the heart of this operational debacle carried out so publicly: 'The police must have lied'.

"As the criminal evidence progressed and incontrovertible evidence was gathered, this theory became increasingly likely."

Also awaiting trial are 45 police officers, prison staff and medical orderlies accused of beating, abusing and detaining demonstrators detained at the Bolzaneto police station.

BBC Rome correspondent David Willey said it was highly unusual for Italian police officers to be brought to court on such charges.

But he added that it was possible their trial might run out of time because of a new statute of limitations introduced by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

'Gratuitous and brutal'

British independent journalist Mark Covell was one of the most seriously injured in the Diaz raid - he suffered eight broken ribs, a shredded lung and a broken hand. He also lost 10 teeth and needed transfusions because he lost so much blood.

Mr Zucca's report undermines the police's version of events and suggests the raid had nothing to do with the attack on the patrol.

He goes on to describe the attack on Mr Covell as "gratuitous and brutal", and said a film taken by a cameraman from the Undercurrents media group fully confirmed Mr Covell's story of having been attacked without provocation.

The report says: "The resolute nature of the blows by numerous police officers, as Covell had already been attacked and was lying on the ground helpless, bleeding and suffering from serious injuries, led the public prosecutor's office to describe the behaviour as attempted homicide... At the time the attack on Covell was carried out he was not resisting."

Mark Covell, one of the victims
I am terrified of going over there and testifying, as are most of the other Diaz victims. I will have to confront my (alleged) attackers and the men who commanded them
Mark Covell

Before leaving for Italy, where he will be a key prosecution witness, Mr Covell said: "I am terrified of going over there and testifying, as are most of the other Diaz victims. I will have to confront my (alleged) attackers and the men who commanded them."

Hamish Campbell, who filmed the raid and the attack on Mr Covell from the roof of a neighbouring building, told the BBC News website: "I witnessed it all and it was extremely violent. I was completely shocked.

"We knew the police in Genoa had a bit of a reputation and the day before a demonstrator had been shot dead, but it still came as a shock."

Mr Campbell, clutching the film he had taken, hid in an empty water tank for five hours as police searched the building.

He said: "It was cold and I was terrified, but fortunately they didn't find me, although I had to hide from a police helicopter with a searchlight.

"Later I went across to the Diaz school and filmed everything. There was blood on the floor and skin and hair on the walls."

Mr Zucca's report says: "Serious flaws began to appear in the police version of events a few days after the operation.

"Squad chiefs of the 7th Unit of the Rome Flying Squad Division immediately began distancing themselves from the subsequent violence... Some even said they had witnessed scenes of gratuitous violence against those arrested."


Map of Genoa
The raid took place two miles from the scene of the riots

One officer described it as a "bloodbath" and described officers "beating youths like wild beasts", says the report.

He says the victims - who came from Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Britain and the United States - gave a "single, powerful and coherent story", even though they were often questioned hundreds of miles apart and had not had an opportunity to communicate with each other.

As for the planting of the Molotov cocktails, Mr Zucca also says: "Later statements by (Deputy Assistant Police Commissioner Pasquale) Guaglione and (high-ranking public order official Maurizio) Piccolotti contained details that confirmed that the two petrol bombs seized during the search were, in fact, the same ones that had been found in Corso Italia (earlier the same day)."

The Italian police trust the judiciary and want the truth to be ascertained as soon as possible
Italian police union SILP

The trial is expected to last for at least a year but Enrica Bartesaghi, who runs the Truth and Justice Committee for Genoa, told the Associated Press: "We're concerned that the people responsible might not see justice."

Our Rome correspondent said the police has always claimed that they used a reasonable amount of force during the raid.

The SILP police union represents several of those on trial, and its national secretary Claudio Giardullo told the BBC News website earlier this year: "The Italian police trust the judiciary and want the truth to be ascertained as soon as possible.

"Personal responsibilities must be established, and those who have made mistakes must pay."

The BBC speaks to a Briton injured in the protests

Ghosts of G8 haunt Genoa
06 Feb 05 |  Europe
In pictures: Italian police accused
06 Feb 05 |  In Pictures
'I still have nightmares'
06 Feb 05 |  Europe

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