Police used 'repugnant' force on G8 protestors says court

Officers 'ordered to make arrests to redeem image after riots'

Police used 'repugnant' force on G8 protestors says court

(see related story on site). (ANSA) - Rome, October 2 - Police used "repugnant" levels of force on anti-globalization demonstrators at the 2001 Group of Eight summit in Genoa, blackening Italy's image in the process, the country's top appeals court said Tuesday. "The extent of the violence was found, in the end, to be repugnant," the Cassation Court said in its 186-page written ruling in the case, released Tuesday to explain a verdict handed down July 13. Three people were left comatose and 26 were hospitalized after police in riot gear raided a school used by the anti-globalist protests as their sleeping quarters. Police used "military-style" tactics, sending in 500 police to take the school, although demonstrators had no weapons, the court said in upholding and even increasing prison sentences against senior officers. Although demonstrators were asleep when the raid began, police struck motionless forms with their batons, as well as with kicks and punches, ignoring cries that the group was non-violent, says the court. Police even denigrated the demonstrators, cursing them as "bastards". Police were ordered to take on the demonstrators to make up for their failure to stop rampages that devastated the port city, the court concluded. It said former national police chief Gianni De Gennaro, one of the few senior officers to be acquitted at the end of the appeals process, had demanded arrests "to redeem the image of the police from charges of inertia," the court said. "This (demand) ended up taking precedence over making sure the search (of the school) was successful," the Cassation judges said. The high court especially condemned the riot police and their leader, former flying squad chief Vincenzo Canterini of Rome, who was supposed to secure the school, but instead unleashed "reckless" violence. Canterini, one of the highest-ranking officers convicted in 2008, saw his jail term lengthened from four to five years in 2010 - though like the others his conviction was timed out and he was disbarred rather than going to jail. At the Diaz school, police arrested 93 protesters, including British, French, German and other non-Italian nationals, and injured 87. The appeals judges found that the senior officials ordered the raid, overruling the conclusion of the 2008 judges who ruled the police acted on their own without instructions from their superiors. In its July final ruling, the court upheld and extended various sentences. But all the jail sentences were timed out, meaning that the stiffest penalty for several top officers was to be barred from the police force - resulting in what the Italian media called a "decapitation" of the police force. In the first appeals trial in June 2010 top officers Francesco Guatteri and Giovanni Luperi were given four years in jail for the raid. Both had been cleared at the original trial in 2008. The head of the security police in Genoa at the time, Spartaco Mortola, also cleared at the original trial, was given three years eight months in jail by the top court. The 13 police agents convicted of brutality in 2008 saw their sentences raised from three to four years.

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