Italian police planted petrol bombs on G8 summit protesters
By Jessie Grimond in Rome
30 July 2002
Italian police planted two Molotov cocktails in a school where
anti-globalisation pro-testers were sleeping to justify a brutal crackdown
during last year's G8 summit in Genoa.
A policeman has confessed that he planted the explosives following a year
of acrimony over the handling of security at the summit where a protester
was shot dead by the police.
"I brought the Molotov cocktail to the Diaz school. I obeyed the order of
one of my superiors," the 25-year-old unnamed officer told prosecutors
investigating the summit. The Molotov cocktails were planted in the school
to justify the police raids on the school, he said.
His superior, Pietro Troiani, from a mobile police unit in Rome, is
already being investigated after another colleague accused him of
providing false information to justify the raids.
At the time, the Italian Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi, insisted that
the raids proved that the school held violent anarchists who had wrecked
the city. The presence of Molotov cocktails has been held up by the police
as justification for their raids on the school. They were shown off to
journalists along with a nail bomb, two sledge-hammers and a pickaxe, also
said to have been gathered at the scene.
The anti-globalisation pro-testers who stayed at the school insisted that
they were not involved in the violence which marred the summit.
Ninety-three demonstrators were arrested during the raids on the Armando
Diaz school on 21 July last year. Sixty-three of them reported serious
injuries. Protesters have claimed that they were beaten unconscious by
police, deprived of sleep, sexually harassed and denied prompt medical
There is some confusion about the planting of the petrol bombs. Last week
another policeman said that he had seen Mr Troiani bringing the explosives
into the school wrapped in plastic. But video footage shot by protesters
appears to contradict this, apparently showing a group of police officers
holding the Molotov cocktails before the raid without the plastic.
The government has defended the police action in the face of widespread
criticism and an admission by the Genoa police chief that his officers
used "excessive force". It has accused prosecutors investigating the
police of bias towards the protesters.
The Italian opposition has accused Mr Berlusconi's conservative government
of "zero tolerance" towards the anti-globalisation movement.
Police were drafted in from around the country for the summit for which
250,000 protesters flocked to the city. Seventy seven officers are under
investigation, including the policeman who shot dead a protester, but no
one has lost their job. Amnesty International has condemned the lack of
action by the government to bring the police to justice, pointing out that
many incidents were caught on camera and were "undeniable". The
organisation has accused the police of "arbitrary arrest and the use of
torture and ill-treatment".
There have been allegations that the police were well warned about the
presence of specific violent elements among protesters but that these
warnings were repeatedly ignored, leading to speculation that this was to
allow officers free rein for violence.
There are now at least 10 criminal investigations into what happened in
Magistrates have notified about 80 officers that they are being
investigated for alleged crimes committed during the school raid, the
street protests and at the Bolzaneto detention centre where, Amnesty
International claims, about 200 protesters were tortured.
Protesters have alleged that the police action was sanctioned by
politicians and they have called upon the Deputy Prime Minister,
Gianfranco Fini, of the National Alliance Party, to resign.