|| la memoria e' un ingranaggio collettivo

Supporto Print # 3; text version

Supporto Legale 2005-2006

For more than a year, Supporto Legale has been fighting on the battleground of the repressors: in the courtrooms. For us, it means dealing with a contradiction on a daily basis: we we trust neither justice system nor democratic state. We don't believe we will find truth and justice in a courtroom. But nor do we want the courts to freely enforce their own version of "justice".
The lives of the defendants and those involved in the other trials are at stake. Access to records and documents is crucial to any real reflection and analysis based on the "facts" rather than self-serving or simplistic theories. This is true across the board, and not just in regard to the trials on the Genoa G8 summit events.
The one principle we all completely agreed on when we started working on the Genoa trials was that everyone had a right to be defended. This principle is more valid now than ever, given that the courtrooms are being used as the battleground for attacking a series of political struggles taking place across Italy, both before and after Genoa. Supporto Legale was set up by a network of activists from a range of backgrounds and experiences. Initially part of Indymedia, it later started functioning as an independent group. We have no spokespeople and are self-financing. We have several research projects, and we work on providing information for the trials and for other, related issues. We collect funds to finance the Genoa legal office, which follows the 2001 G8 trials but we are trying to extend our work to other judicial proceedings: the Cosenza trial, in which 13 Sud Ribelle activists are standing trial, and the trial over the beating in San Paolo Hospital in Milan following the murder of a comrade, Dax, by a group of nazis. Supporto Legale has a bank account for collecting funds, which are then redistributed, as needed, to the various legal offices. Our "finances" are public and transparent and on the web site you will find an explanation of how donations are used, the details of all payments and receipts, and the balance of our funds. As always, we are ready for any suggestions and debate on how to continue and improve the management of this money.

Donations supporting the work of Supporto Legale can be made through:
Banca di Credito Cooperativo di Casalgrasso e Sant'Albano Stura -
Torino - V.Emanuele Conto Corrente: 000130108433
In the name of: Associazione Culturale dei Ciompi onlus
CIN: E - ABI: 08833 - CAB: 01000
BBAN: E 08833 01000 000130108433
IBAN: IT62 E088 3301 0000 0013 0108 433
Reason: "supporto legale"


The Prosecution's Final Rush

The first part of the trial against the 25 demonstrators accused of destruction and looting - the testimony of prosecution witnesses - is drawing to an end. In the next stage, defence witnesses will take the stand. Eighteen months of hearings have gradually reconstructed the events of July 20 and 21, 2001. The main Police and Carabinieri officials in charge of what was happening on the street have been paraded before the court.
This has led to a partial reconstruction, although with a great deal of forgetfulness and uncertainty regarding the chain of command, the orders, the relations between the various security forces, the charges, the beatings, the arrests and the detentions. The defence has demonstrated that the Carabinieri contingent that charged the authorized Tute Bianche demonstration on Via Tolemaide was to blame. Video footage and photographs have shown that Carabinieri officers used iron bars rather than the regular batons.
The public prosecutors have called several witnesses for the purpose of "casting light on what happened in Piazza Alimonda". Confusion surrounding the circumstances of Carlo Giuliani's murder has actually increased. The murder was the result of a Carabinieri charge in Via Caffa, the road connecting Piazza Alimonda and Via Tolemaide. The Carabinieri Echo squad (one of several riot squads formed specifically for the Genoa G8 summit) came into contact with the demo but was driven back. A chaotic withdrawal followed. The defender with Mario Placanica on board was blocked in front of a trash skip and surrounded by demonstrators. The charge being overseen by Adriano Lauro was the result of an error in judgement. The Carabinieri officers were fewer in numbers and they were in poor mental and physical condition. The presence of the two land-rover defender jeeps behind the platoon has not been explained. Captain Claudio Cappello, who commanded the Echo riot squad, is a public order expert, an official with the Tuscania paratroopers, a Somalia veteran and is currently serving in Iraq. He ordered Placanica to get into one of the two vehicles, because he was "affected with psychomotor problems" and then lost interest, "taking it for granted that the vehicles would move away". He immediately approached Carlo lying on the ground but claims he thought he had been run over, despite the fact the photos show him next to the body with blood gushing from his cheekbone. Questioned over the scene in which he chased a demonstrator shouting: "You killed him with your stone!", Lauro said he had simply made a mistake. He claims this had nothing to do with the unexplained wound that appeared on Carlo's forehead, together with a bloody stone near his head, during the period between the Carabinieri seizing back control of the square and the ambulance arriving. The legal doctor who carried out the autopsy, Marco Salvi, testified that the shot was certainly direct, and had not rebounded from a piece of rubble, as court expert Carlo Torre claimed.
Colonel Truglio, the highest Carabinieri official present in Piazza Alimonda, was unable to testify because he was serving in Iraq.
Former Carabinieri officer Placanica availed himself of the right to remain silent, having been investigated in related proceedings, even though these have now been shelved. Meanwhile, he refuses to deny reports that he could run in local elections for Catanzaro council as a candidate for the National Alliance party.
The prosecution's final rush. Over recent months, the public prosecutors have instead been working on recognizing and identifying the defendants. The star of the day at the October 12 hearing was Franco Zampese, the Genoa security police officer who served at the G8 office of the Genoa Police Headquarters, established in September 2001 to investigate the "destruction". He reeled off names, streets, times and personal opinions. After six hearings dedicated to the identifications, on November 29, Zampese began presenting his timetable of events. Besides the photos and videos, this last hearing also saw the unexpected introduction of recorded conversations to the 113 police emergency number, which had not been cited in the public prosecution's files. Investigations are still under way, apparently.
The defence will presumably get the chance to cross-examine the witness from January onwards.


MILAN 2003
Trials over events in San Paolo Hospital

Four social centre activists, two Carabinieri officers and a policeman are standing trial over events in Milan's San Paolo Hospital, which occurred following the murder of Davide Cesare, "Dax", by a group of nazis. They are charged with abuse of office, beating, personal injury and "carrying weapons and objects with the intention of causing injury".
The Facts: On the night of March 16, 2003, Dax, together with two friends, was stabbed near Via Brioschi outside a bar. Ambulances and police cars arrived, followed by Carabinieri. The squad cars were parked, blocking the ambulance, and tension developed. At San Paolo Hospital, the youths learned that Dax had died. Around 40 police and Carabinieri officers arrived. They made two charges and then, together, burst into the Emergency Room, where some of Dax's friends had taken refuge, sparking a manhunt. Witness accounts reveal they were equipped with batons, shields and helmets. Shouting, they beat people and dragged them across the ground. Two of them recovered, outside, while a youth was hurled to the ground and violently beaten. Another police officer was seen moving through the hospital with a baseball bat. It was only later that the third Operative Squad arrived, commanded by police official Valentino, who ordered the carabinieri to leave the hospital.
The Trial: The most important witness has been Captain Marco Iseglio, a lieutenant at the time. He was there to ascertain the identity of the wounded. He ended up as the highest-ranking official and ordered the charges. During the investigations, the state police and carabinieri claimed, amid a great many contradictions, that the youths attacked them and then put up resistance, barricading themselves inside the Emergency Room. In some instances, they changed their accounts after newspapers published photos of them beating and using non-regulation weapons. A state police squad chief was investigated for making a false statement. One of his agents was investigated for falsifying his testimony, for having sought to cover him during the course of his deposition (the December 1 hearing). Other lies also emerged during these initial hearings. One policeman admitted that the San Paolo Emergency Room has a sliding door, it was therefore impossible for the youths to have barricaded themselves inside. Another witness, a security guard, confirmed the attacks by the police and carabinieri forces. The consistent element was the lack of any coordination or anyone assuming command. None of the witnesses to testify so far - all police and carabinieri members - has admitted beating the youths or using inappropriate weapons, as in the records of various witnesses.
Next hearings: December 22 2005, January 19 and 26, February 9 and 16 2006. This should mark the close of the prosecution's witnesses and the start of the defence witnesses.


The first witnesses testify about the night of the Diaz raid

The trial has finally got under way properly, with testimony by the first witnesses, a year after 29 police officials were indicted for grievous bodily harm, fraud and false statements over the raid on the Diaz School. Among those standing trial are Francesco Gratteri, the former head of the police's crack anti-crime unit SCO, now one of the country's top counter-terrorism chiefs, and Giovanni Luperi, the Deputy Director of the central police general investigations department, UCIGOS.
On November 2, testimony was heard by the two Carabinieri marshals that carried out the inspection of the Pertini and Pascoli Schools (which together form the Diaz complex) two days after the raid, searching for evidence that the "Black Bloc" had been in the buildings. This formed part of investigations into the 93 protestors arrested on charges of conspiracy to commit destruction and looting, and later cleared of every charge. This hearing presented over 250 photos taken inside the two buildings, finds that were later shown to the witnesses to carry out reconstructions.
The November 9 hearing started with testimony from the plaintiffs, the youths inside the school who were beaten and arrested. The first, L.Z., is a German student. When the police arrived, L hid in a cupboard on the fourth floor of the school building together with her boyfriend. They were pulled out, kicked and clubbed. L had numerous ribs broken and her lungs punctured, She was lifted up and thrown against a wall, then she was dragged by her hair, face-down, down the stairs. She was left lying on the ground in a pool of blood, with others in a similar condition, and lost consciousness. She came round to see various police officers passing by, and stopping to spit on her. She ended up in hospital where she had to be operated on. During the first three days, she was under arrest. She was kept under surveillance by police officers who toyed with their guns while in her room. She suffered permanent damage. The volume of her lungs has been reduced by 30%, she has breathing difficulties and suffers chronic pains in her back and other parts of her body.
D.A. a young German musician, suffered a similar fate. D, who testified on November 17, was on the first floor of the school when the police broke in. "The police arrived running and shouting," he said. "They ordered us to sit down using gestures. Then they stopped in front of each one of us and started beating us with batons, particularly around the head. It seemed like they deliberately wanted to hit us on the head, using as much force as possible." All the people in the corridor were systematically beaten and left bleeding on the floor. D had to have his head operated on for cerebral hematoma. Immediately after the beating, D recalls two officials in civilian clothes, one of whom with a helmet and beard. No identification was carried out in the courtroom but there was only one official with a beard and a helmet at Diaz: Francesco Gratteri.
L.G., a journalist from daily Il Resto del Carlino, was beaten in the school gym. "I saw groups of agents entering running, shouting. They headed straight for the people in front of them." "These first agents started kicking and clubbing people, spitting on them. I remember them spitting and saying things like 'This is the last G8 you'll ever do' and 'Tonight you'll have a little less fun'." Under guard in hospital the next day, with lacerations and contusions on his back and chest, he learned from a newspaper that he had been arrested for conspiracy to commit destruction and looting.
V.B was more fortunate "because I had other people in front of me who acted as a shield". She recalled in detail all the beating carried out in the gym, including the fact that several officials in plain clothes were present while the youths who had been brought down from the upper floors were being beaten. "While the agents continued beating people, the officials turned their backs, as though turning a blind eye to a bit of mischief." V. saw one of these two officials clearly and she also remembers because she saw him a few days later on the TV news, while she was in prison. She was shown a video of a group of officials in front of the Pertini School and had no doubts. "It's him. I also saw him last year at the first preliminary hearing of this trial. My lawyer told me his name is Giovanni Luperi."
The reconstruction promises to be long and complex. Public prosecutors Zucca and Cardona have called over 200 witnesses. Some have already testified regarding an episode prior to the raid, apparently meant to justify the action. This was an alleged attack on a patrol under the command of Di Bernardini, who passed in front of the school at around 9:30pm. R.B., one of the Pascoli School Media Centre organizers, recalled there were numerous people on the street at the time, chatting and organizing their departure. "That car seemed like deliberate provocation after the murder of Carlo Giuliani and everything that had happened over the two days." A bottle of beer went flying and smashed on the ground. Insults and shouting followed. "But the car screeched off and things went no further."
M.C., a Genoa Social Forum doctor, agreed that patrol had seemed like deliberate provocation. Looking out from the windows of the Pascoli building, he also saw the British journalist Mark Covell being beaten, and left within an inch of his life on the sidewalk. M.B., a nurse, testified the same incident. "He had his arms raised. The first ones to arrive shoved him. They then closed in on him and began kicking him. It was like he was a punchbag."
Other witnesses told of how police burst into the Pascoli School, where police destroyed, among other things, the computers of the GSF lawyers containing demonstrators' statements regarding police violence.


Trial proper finally gets under way

The Bolzaneto proceedings began on October 12. Forty-five people (high-ranking police officers, policemen, Carabinieri, prison guards and medical personnel) have been charged with violence and abuse of demonstrators who were detained and arrested in Genoa during the G8 summit and brought to the Bolzaneto police station, temporarily transformed into a detention centre.
The proceedings got off to a slow start. An entire four hearings were spent debating the preliminaries. This slow pace was in part due to the appearance of new plaintiffs. But it was also attributable to continual objections from the defence, and - last but not least - a court that seems convinced it can't end the trial before the offences expire under statute. During the November 3 hearing, Vaccaro, Dr. Toccafondi's defence lawyer, gave a long speech complaining about the public expense of the trial. A trial, he said, which would "anyway end either with acquittals or with the statute of limitations expiring". Presiding Judge Delucchi confirmed this impression of a sham trial, by letting slip in response, "We're all convinced of that".
On November 24 the panel took two hours to decide over legal aid for one defendant. The plaintiff lawyers responded to objections raised by the defence but the court was unable to reach a decision.
But time was running out. The trial was threatened by a new law (known as the "Save-Previti Law"), which reduces the statute of limitation for crimes by first-time offenders (while increasing it for repeat offenders). The measure was passed by parliament on November 30, although Italian President Ciampi has not yet signed it into law. An amendment to the bill exempted trials already under way properly, such as the Diaz proceedings, from the reduced statute of limitations. This was not the case with the Bolzaneto proceedings, yet.
There were finally some developments on December 1. After 3 hours consultation, the presiding judge, Delucchi, read a long court order accepting some of the defence's numerous objections. The Genoa Social Forum's request that it be allowed to join the proceedings as co-plaintiff was rejected, on the grounds that its connection to the events was "merely ideological". The bench also rejected requests from some of the victims to file proceedings against some individual police officers, on the basis that these officers were not on duty that day.
Then the hearing wrapped up with the surprise announcement that the trial was now officialy under way.
On December 15 the witnesses lists have been submitted. One list from a defense lawyer sums up to 1000 witnesses, clearly designed to ensure a never ending trial, should the court accept it.
Next hearing: December 22