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[Diaz] The dramatic beating of Mark Covell

January 25, 2006 - 21st hearing in Diaz Trial The dramatic beating of journalist Mark Covell

British media activist Mark Covell testified in court during the 21st hearing of the Diaz process, giving a clear, precise account. He entered the Diaz School late in the evening, together with someone else. Not long after, the alarm was sounded over the police raid. The two left and tried to get away. Covell's friend managed to hide in the Pascoli School. Covell was less fortunate. "I was surrounded by five police officers. I remember shouting 'I'm a journalist!', but a police officers showed me his baton and said to me in English: 'You're Black Bloc and we kill people who are Black Block'. He started hitting me on every part of my body. I stayed standing and then I was charged by police with shields. It all took about two or three minutes." This was the first time Covell was beaten.
Then it happened again. "I tried to run away but there was no way to escape. When I was pushed towards the wall, they beat my knees and I fell down. At that point I realized how many police were on the street. It seemed like there were around 200 and I feared for my life."
This was followed by a third attack. "Another police officer arrived then and the third attack began. I don't remember how often I was beaten but they kicked me in the teeth and on my head. At that point I lost consciousness." The video screened in the courtroom shows agents from the 7th unit of the Rome Flying Squad, which was headed by one of the most well known defendants, Commander Vincenzo Canterini. One of the defence lawyers, Silvio Romanelli, sprang into action, appealing on technical questions that could do little to undermine the sharp reality of the video screened. His clients stand out clearly in comparison to the other police deployed that evening.
S.S., the third witness of the day, recalled the large black belts the unit was wearing, as well as their use of tonfa batons. "They waved them around their heads and I saw them being used upside down, like you use an axe," he recalled. "I was hit around five times in the head, which gave me a long wound, and then on the arms, because I was trying to protect myself. It was only when a policeman shouted, 'That's enough!' that they all stopped beating me. I saw a woman, Melanie Jonasch, lying in a pool of blood. She wasn't moving. I was scared she was dead."
The 21st hearing saw some important developments, as well as the dramatic tale of Mark Covell, who was beaten to within an inch of his life and had to have his arm and spine operated on.

German witnesses will testify next, on January 26.