Saturday, July 07, 2007

Diaz School Raid Trial

A round up of the ongoing court case I am involved in in Genoa Italy from 2001

"Last but not least we have the so-called "Diaz School Trial": on the night of saturday 29th police troops stormed the Diaz School and the indymedia center/GSF offices in the Pascoli school on the opposite side of the road. The Pascoli school saw the destruction of computers, lawyers hard disk and the seizing of video and photo material which included footage of the operation happening in the other school in the meantime. The Diaz school was acting as a dormitory and the police raided the building arresting 93 persons and injuring 63 (10 very severely). Then the police planted two molotov cocktails in the school ground floor so as to justify the raid with "war weaponry" (molotov's are so defined by italian criminal law).
The officiers of the main units participating in the raid, as well as the highest officiers of the Italian Police who were present during the operation and signed the arrest warrant and seizing declaration are being charged with "injuries", "false declaration" and "libel".
The court case saw during 2005-2006 all the 93 victims of the raid witnessing in court, as well as journalists, politicians, and activists who were in the other school during the raid. People living in the neighbourhood came to explain how they lived the operation, medics and paramedics came to explain how severe injuries were, how people working in hospitals felt about the operation, and so on.
Officiers from the Carabinieri special investigation technical unit (RIS) witnessed the absence of evident resistence and stone-throwing from the window of the school (the supposed resistance was key to the police claiming the need for a strong and firm raid), and more investigating police officiers came to explain how they identified various accused police members by their telephone calls and the use of videos.
In the last year there were many outstanding hearing: Pasquale Guaglione, former police officiers leading the charges on the seaside of saturday 21st 2001 afternoon, confirmed to have found the molotov cocktails planted in the Diaz school on the seaside in the afternoon. He then gave them to his commander (General Donnini) and his chief in command (Piccolotti) refused to mention them in his relation on the days activities. Supposedly the molotov cocktail then passed from the General car (which was present on the Diaz school raid scenery) to the school, as a famous television video shows clearly.
The former Genoa Police Chief (Francesco Colucci) during his witness changed all his previous declaration, trying to frame police officers who were not accused in the court case and to easy the situation of accused ones. Unfortunately for him the former vice-chief of the police (Ansoino Andreassi) witnessed the week after and accused Colucci of "having made incorrect declarations". This resulted in Colucci being investigated for false witnessing.
Ansoino Andreassi further cleared once and for all the nature of the operation: "normally when you have serious rioting, police need to make lots of arrest to counterbalance the riots; the Diaz operation was aimed at restoring the Police image after the previous days of rioting with police apparently doing nothing". He also cleared the "institutional" command line: "the chief of the Police sent La Barbera to Genoa saturday afternoon, marking a change in strategy and my defeat; Gratteri was the operative high officiers directly depending from La Barbera".

Lastly two of the police officiers accused in the trial came to witness in court: Vincenzo Canterini and Michelangelo Fournier (respectively chief and vice-chief of the special riot units who led the raid). Canterini stated that he did not see any resistance but supposed there had been seeing and hearing what his men told him. Canterini further said to have come after the entrance of the unit and to have seen some beating but not by men of his unit. He contraddicted lots of his previous declaration.
Fournier on the contrary is known to be the officiers shouting "Stop! Stop!" during the raid when he finally sees a girl lying in a pool of blood on the first floor. He confirmed all his previous declarations and even made them stronged. He confirmed having seen beating and unjustified violence (but not from his men) and said it felt like being in a "mexican butchery". He stated in court that "it was no police operation but a violent and pointless raid".
His declarations have been reported in all major television newsreel and newspapers.

The Diaz court case has now seen the end of prosecutors witness list and will go through the defense list during the coming year. It will probably be concluded by the end of 2008."

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