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Three police held for infamous Diaz raid

'Better late than never' says anti-globalisation leader

03 January, 17:01
Three police held for infamous Diaz raid (By Denis Greenan).

(ANSA) - Genoa, January 3 - Three top policemen have been placed under house arrest to serve the remainder of their sentences for Italy's most notorious case of police brutality, a bloody raid on anti-globalisation protesters sleeping in a school at the 2001 Group of Eight summit in Genoa.

In the night assault on the Diaz school, hundreds of police attacked about 100 activists and a few journalists, seriously injuring 61 - three critically and one, British journalist Mark Covell, in a coma with rib and spinal injuries.

Officers planted evidence including two Molotov cocktails and hammers and knives from a nearby construction site to justify the raid.

Amnesty International called the event "the most serious suspension of democratic rights in a Western country since the Second World War".

The three, including the former No.3 in the Italian police force, Francesco Gratteri, and the ex-head of the Digos anti-terrorism police in Genoa, Spartaco Mortola, received custodial sentences which were never enforced, like all the other police convicted. They will now serve the remaining year of their terms at home and may see it cut for good behaviour.

The trio, also including retired former inspector Giovanni Luperi, had appeals to do the time performing community service turned down.

"Better late than never," said Vittorio Agnoletto, spokesman for the Genoa Social Forum, an anti-globalisation group bunking at the school whose peaceful protests were hijacked by violent anarchists during three days of mayhem that saw a protester shot dead by a policeman he was attacking.

"After almost 13 years, three of the highest-ranking policemen have been arrested for the 'Mexican butchery' of that night at the Diaz school in July 2001," Agnoletto said. "All through the long years of the trials, while they were being investigated, their careers dizzily progressed from promotion to promotion with the OK of successive governments and the silence of parliament.

"No one in the police or in government ever felt the need, even after the first-instance and appeals verdicts, to remove them from their posts," said Agnoletto, who is among those convinced much of the violence was fomented by agents provocateurs.

Officials have repeatedly rejected appeals for a parliamentary inquiry into the July 2001 G8 summit violence, the raid and the subsequent brutal mistreatment of protesters, including rape threats, at a Genoa barracks.

The incidents are depicted in the acclaimed 2012 film Diaz - Don't Clean Up This Blood.

The national police chief at the time, Gianni De Gennaro, was appointed head of State-controlled defence and aerospace giant Finmeccanica last summer.

De Gennaro, who ordered the raid to redeem the image of a police force that took a battering during the days of anarchy, was cleared of making subordinates commit perjury.

De Gennaro was the only ranking officer to escape nominal punishment. Several foreign governments voiced concern as details began to come out. Echoing the Italian government immediately after the raid, before the truth about the police action emerged, a spokesman for British prime minister Tony Blair said: "The Italian police had a difficult job to do. The prime minister believes that they did that job".