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Home Civil resistance Democracy or not

Democracy or not

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Italian police in Genoa 2001The far too many cases of abuses by security forces in Italy are a very serious threat to democracy in this country, even if only some citizens seem to realize it. The cases of Stefano Cucchi, Marcello Lonzi, Aldo Bianzino, Niki April Gatti, Manuel Eliantonio, Federico Aldrovandi and Riccardo Rasman, came to light thanks to the courageous struggle of families to seek the truth despite the guilty silence of the information.

Only the last case in chronological order, and that of Gabriele Sandri, arrived immediately on the front pages of newspapers and on television news, while for others the censorship and the silence won for too long. The policemen responsible for the death of Richard Rasman, Federico Aldrovandi and Gabriele Sandri were convicted, but with penalties that are clearly inadequate to the crime committed. A story not new for our country, which has always had huge holes blacks of democracy in the apparatus of the state, just think of the bombings and the strategy of tension. But confining ourselves to the recent past, even during the G8 summit in Genoa in 2001 the behavior of the italian police was disgraceful. Violent beatings, torture, arbitrary arrests, false evidence against those arrested, charges against protesters, all resolved with mild punishment for the agents involved and acquittals for the heads, despite numerous witnesses and video evidences, and harsh sentences instead against the few protesters found guilty of property damage. Punishments that far exceed those that policemen have received. All that shows that if you're a policeman you can beat up and even kill people and risks no more than six years in prison, but usually much less, and you can even remain in service until the final sentence. If you are a demonstrator who breaks a shop window you risk up to 15 years in prison, where anything can happen even if you have committed a minor crime. The disproportionality is evident.
All this is deeply wrong from any point of view. The servants of the state (ie of citizens) cannot violate the laws they should enforce. They cannot use gratuitous and indiscriminate violence, but only that needed to defend themselves and innocents. All this raises fears from many that compliance with the laws of the Italian Republic and the democratic sincerity within the italian police are in no way guaranteed. In 2001, anyone who saw what happened in the streets of Genoa knows that the abuses were not isolated cases, but common behavior. And regarding the abovementioned cases the behavior of law enforcement went far beyond the simple solidarity between colleagues and the presumption of innocence, thus in effect creating a wall of silence to avoid prosecution.
It's also true that, at least from 2001 onwards, the judiciary has sought to pursue these unacceptable behaviors, although eventually the sentences were very mild for a number of mitigating circumstances that would never have been recognized to ordinary citizens accused of murder. Italian politics however is dramatically missing. Faced with a series of such incidents the government should strongly demand the heads of security forces for the establishment of more discipline and more effective internal controls. That has not been done by this government, nor by the previous one (Rasman, Sandri and Bianzino were killed during the Prodi government).
So one has to ask whether Italy is a democracy in which all citizens (including policemen) are equal before the law, meaning that they must comply to it and be punished like the others if they don't, or Italy is not.

Francesco Defferrari

Last Updated on Friday, 06 November 2009 18:18  
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