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Sunday, 22 July, 2001, 13:38 GMT 14:38 UK
Hain condemns Italian police
Riot police in Genoa
There have been heavy clashes between police and protesters
Europe Minister Peter Hain has accused the Italian police of "overreacting" during clashes with demonstrators in Genoa which led to one protester being shot dead.

Speaking as the G8 summit in the Italian city was coming to an end, Mr Hain said it was impossible to justify the actions of police who shot 23-year-old Carlo Giuliani.

You can't defend what has been done in Genoa

Peter Hain
"The way in which Genoa is handled has to be looked at and some serious questions posed and answered - the action of the police shooting and killing somebody, you can't defend that," he told Sky News.

Mr Hain's comments were in stark contrast to those of Prime Minister Tony Blair, who earlier refused to condemn the Italian authorities' handling of the demonstrations.

"To criticise the Italian police and the Italian authorities for working to make sure the security of the summit is right is, to me, to turn the world upside down," Tony Blair said on Saturday.

The Europe minister went on to say the "voice of the people outside of the institutions" had to be heard - although he also had words of condemnation for those protesters who were involved in violence.

Mr Hain's comments are in marked contrast to Mr Blair's

The veteran anti-apartheid campaigner added: "You can't defend what has been done in Genoa, either the balaclava demonstrators out there to basically trash the place and bust a skull if they can, or the over-reaction from the police."

His comments came as it emerged that six Britons were among 96 anti-capitalist protesters arrested when anti-riot police swooped on a school they were using during the G8 summit demonstrations in Genoa.

Charges considered

The Italian authorities revealed they were considering manslaughter charges against an officer who shot Mr Guiliani on Friday as he tried to hurl a fire extinguisher at a van full of police.

Mr Hain insisted that world leaders needed to have opportunities to meet to discuss global issues.

He said: "Everybody has got a responsibility here, I think more modest occasions are probably something to consider seriously."

"Leaders have to be able to meet together and do the business of the world together otherwise we will never solve the world's enormous problems," he added.

The battles in the street overshadowed what was being presented as a major personal triumph for Mr Blair, who secured agreement on an international plan to help Africa.

British government officials said Mr Blair - who made clear during the General Election that African development was a key foreign policy goal - had persuaded fellow world leaders to draw up proposals in time for next year's summit in Canada.

See also:

17 Jul 01 | UK Politics
'Cut Euro-babble', says minister
01 Jan 01 | UK Confidential
Transcripts: The protester
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