Published on Saturday, June 22, 2002 in the Guardian of London
Italian Police 'Framed G8 Protesters'
by Rory Carroll in Rome
police have been accused of fabricating evidence against anti-globalization protesters
at last year's G8 summit in Genoa by planting petrol bombs at their headquarters
and falsely accusing them of stabbing a police officer.
It emerged this week that senior police officers have been placed under investigation for allegedly making false statements as part of a cover-up.
At a press conference the day after the July 21 raid the police presented an array of weapons which they said were seized at the school and proved the occupants were part of the violent Black Bloc anarchists who rioted during the summit.
Two petrol bombs were displayed as the most damning evidence and prosecutors said all 93 occupants, including five Britons, could be charged with conspiracy to bomb and jailed for five years if found guilty.
Genoa magistrates investigating the raid now suspect the Molotov cocktails had in fact been found by police in the center of the city, seven hours before the midnight raid.
Earlier this month Pasquale Guaglione, a deputy police chief, told investigators that his unit discovered two petrol bombs behind a bush on Via Corso Italia, the scene of fierce rioting, and passed them on to a mobile patrol to take back to the police station.
Mr Guaglione said the labels on the wine bottles - a "Merlot" and a "Colli Piacentini" - were the same as those supposedly seized at the school. Genoa's police station had no record of receiving the petrol bombs from the mobile patrol - a unit from Rome which took part in that night's raid.
A colleague based in Florence has supported Mr Guaglione's testimony but yesterday a member of the Rome-based unit involved in the raid told the magistrates that he had seen the petrol bombs at the school.
The national chief of police, Gianni De Gennaro, appeared to endorse the allegations of fabrication by saying any officer who lied would be fired. He complained that the entire force should not be discredited by the behavior of a few individual officers.
It also emerged this week that investigators no longer believe a police officer who said a protester tried to stab him in the chest during the raid on the school - a claim which was used last July to suggest the occupants were violent and resisted arrest.
The rip in his bullet proof jacket was not consistent with a knife and the police officer may be charged with false testimony, according to investigators quoted in Italian media reports. The Rome daily La Repubblica said a "fragile mountain of lies" against the anti-globalization movement was crumbling.
The Group of Eight summit was the international debut of Italy's new prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, and police sealed off much of the city to keep hundreds of thousands of protesters away from delegates including George Bush of the US, Tony Blair and Vladimir Putin of Russia.
Street battles erupted when police baton-charged protesters who had been infiltrated by the Black Bloc movement of violent anarchists, leaving Genoa a smoking wreck and a rioter shot dead by police.
© Guardian Newspapers Limited 2002