Rome

Top court justifies police sentences in G8 brutality case

Exercised 'complete dismissal of law and order' says Cassation

Top court justifies police sentences in G8 brutality case

(updates previous) Rome, September 10 - Italy's supreme Court of Cassation on Tuesday issued its explanation for upholding seven prison terms handed to police officers and prison doctors for brutality against protestors held in the Bolzaneto barracks during the 2001 Group of Eight (G8) summit in Genoa, blaming those convicted for the "complete dismissal of the cardinal principles of law and order". The sentences, ranging from one to three years in jail, were issued in June, and are connected to two days of mayhem that occurred when more than 300,000 demonstrators converged on Genoa in July 2001. One protester was shot to death while attacking a Carabinieri policeman, and hundreds others were beaten as a number of businesses were ransacked by some demonstrators. The court in June cleared four other police officers and reduced the number of plaintiffs eligible to claim damages from 44 defendants held to be civilly responsible for violence against protesters. In total, 252 demonstrators said they were spat at, verbally and physically humiliated or threatened with rape while being held at the Bolzaneto centre. The Cassation said some of these cases should be pursued in civil courts. In one attack that grabbed headlines worldwide, police made a nighttime raid on the Diaz school, which was being used by G8 protestors as sleeping quarters, leaving three people comatose and sending 26 to hospital. 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". Irking members of Italy's opposition, he was named the CEO of the State-controlled Italian defence and aerospace contractor Finmeccanica in July. Last year in a separate trial, the Cassation Court condemned police heads involved in the Diaz beatings, upholding the findings of a lower appeals court two years previously. 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. Thirteen police agents convicted of brutality in 2008 saw their sentences raised from three to four years. Former Rome flying squad chief Vincenzo Canterini, the only higher ranking officer convicted in 2008, saw his jail term lengthened from four to five years in 2010. But many other police offices allegedly involved saw their cases timed out. The judges found that the senior officials ordered the raid, unlike the 2008 judges who ruled the police acted on their own without instructions from their superiors.

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