Earlier this month Italy’s final appeal court upheld a previous guilty verdict on twenty-four of the most senior police officers involved in the planning and execution of the shocking acts of police violence at the 300,000-strong G8 protests in Genoa in 2001.
Following the demonstration, around four hundred highly trained thugs of the state machinery were set loose for three days. A hundred and fifty of the occupants of the Diaz schoolhouse were beaten to within an inch of their lives on the dishonest pretext that the building was a haven for black block anarchists bent on further rampage.
However, not one of the guilty has spent or will spend a day in gaol. The penalty for the crimes committed has been timed out due to the statute of limitations in a case that, all too typical of those involving the rich and powerful, has lasted almost ten years. They have been suspended — with pay — from holding public office for five years.
A decision a few days earlier had conveniently exonerated them of them from the charge of torture in the original guilty verdict, thus preparing the ground for their eventual “rehabilitation” within the repressive state apparatus.
This parody of justice becomes even more grotesque when we realise that the decision in 2006 to reduce the timing-out period for their crimes came not from a Berlusconi government but from the centre-left outfit of Romani Prodi, with several ministers of Communist Refoundation occupying key positions.
In the teeth of the true facts emerging about what really had occurred, Prodi, with the total silence of the “communist” ministers and their party, promoted all of the senior coppers to even more powerful roles. Gianni Giannini , the wirepuller at the very heart of the murderous events , assumed control of the vast network of secret services. He is still there.
On one level the coordinated project by the Italian ruling class to discredit and destroy the widespread and mounting resistance movement failed as the immediate aftermath witnessed even larger protests, culminating in Florence in 2003. But from another level it succeeded, raising evermore sharply the question of resistance to state violence, which from Genova onwards has assumed the form of brutal and indiscriminate responses to each and every form of collective protest.
In sharp distinction to the case of the twenty-four police officers, the same court upheld guilty verdicts for five of the ten people tried for acts of “sacking and devastation” at the Genoa protest. While the remaining five will have their cases re-examined, the guilty have been sentenced to a total of fifty-four years and three months.
It is needless to add that their trials did not last ten years but five — a sprint for the Italian legal process. Unlike the cops, they will go inside promptly following a further pantomime of justice at work in Italy.