Strasbourg

EU court opens hearings into Genoa G8 brutality

Considering 20 complaints from Italy and abroad

EU court opens hearings into Genoa G8 brutality

Strasbourg, January 2 - More than a decade after brutal police beatings of protesters at a Group of Eight summit in Genoa in 2001, the European Court of Justice in Strasbourg began hearings into the case Wednesday. The Strasbourg court is considering applications brought by 20 people in Italy and other parts of the Europe in the case where police brutality left two people comatose and sent 26 to hospital. The worst attacks occurred when police raided the Diaz school, where anti-globalization protesters were sleeping. Last July, Italy's top appeals court upheld the convictions of several high-ranking officers, saying that violent actions by some police and unprovoked mass arrests of anti-globalization demonstrators had discredited Italy in the eyes of the world. The court slammed police for fabricating justifications for their actions, such as falsely claiming that protesters had stabbed an officer and were about to use Molotov cocktails, which were in fact planted by the police. Senior police made false accusations and committed slander against the accused, and overall failed in their duties during the three-day summit in Genoa, the court said in upholding and even increasing prison sentences against senior officers. Amid the violence that marred the three-day event, a police officer killed a 23-year-old protester as he was about to hurl a fire extinguisher into his vehicle. In its July final ruling, the court said that former national police chief Gianni De Gennaro, the only senior officer to be acquitted at the end of the appeals process, had demanded arrests "to redeem the image of the police from charges of inertia" against militant rampages that devastated the northwestern port city. But jail sentences were suspended for many top officers who have yet to be sanctioned by the interior ministry, and sentences for the riot police eventually timed out. The Italian government was forced to pay 350,000 euros in compensation last fall to a British freelance journalist brutally beaten by Italian police. Mark Covell, who has called for a more complete investigation of the G8 debacle, was unconscious for 14 hours after police in riot gear raided the Diaz school, The bludgeoning left him with a vein twisted around his spine, a perforated lung, broken fingers, ten smashed teeth and eight broken ribs.

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