The police were tidying up. As cafe owners opened up and street cleaners swept away the rubble from the day's rioting, the officers deployed to deal with the riots at the G8 summit last week set to work.
A squad jogged down Cesari Battisti Street, battering anyone in their path. They then headed for a school where Norman Blair, a 38-year-old Londoner, and other anti-capitalist demonstrators were staying. It was just after midnight. The police did not knock. It was payback time.
They rammed the gates to the school with an armoured car. The first in the line of fire was Mark Covell, 33, a journalist covering the summit. He was outside the building when he saw the police coming. He tried to run, but he did not stand a chance.
'I heard my ribs break, like snapping matchsticks. I thought, my God, this is it, I'm going to die,' he said. Splinters of rib punctured his left lung; 10 teeth fell from his mouth. Blood obscured Covell's view as the police charged past him and he col lapsed. 'The last thing I heard was a lot of screaming. Then I lost consciousness.'
Covell's ordeal was the first of many. Richard Moth and Nicola Doherty, two London-based care workers, had just returned to the school when the violence began. The building had been converted into a dormitory for the duration of the G8 summit by the Genoa Social Forum, one of the main organisations behind the protests.
The pair zipped their sleeping bags together, and decided to bed down. As Richard, 32, returned from the bathroom he heard the commotion erupt. He and Nicola followed fellow protesters running up some stairs. But it was too late. The police were already inside.
The pair crouched on the floor, Richard held his body over Nicola to protect her 'All I could hear was blow after blow,' said Nicola. 'I was hit everywhere,' added Richard, 'I can't remember where, it was all such a blur.'
'Richard's blood began to drip onto me,' said Nicola. 'I could hear the man next to me cry "Please stop".'
A second wave of police came. One officer took out a knife. 'He held it against the face of the man next to me and cut off his hair,' said Nicola. 'Then he held it to my face. I closed my eyes. I don't know if he cut off my hair or not. Another policeman came along and hit my back. He leaned forwards, stroked my arm, and said "Aaah", in mock sympathy.'
Police officers rained down blows on the terrified protesters as they were herded into the main school hall. 'You could feel the hatred and the venom in them,' said Norman Blair, his eyes filling with tears of anger as he told how he and his friend Dan McQuillan were beaten to a pulp by the Italian police in Genoa last Saturday night. 'The blood was coming out of Dan in big dollops, like jelly. It was just horrible.'
Then they were made to kneel, hands stretched out, as their blood formed pools around them. Petrified paramedics quickly ran out of the most basic materials for the injured. Ambulance staff were forced to make splints from cardboard boxes. Makeshift stretchers made from sleeping bags and mats were used to drag the unconscious out into the street. One police officer, concerned that at least two people seemed to be in a coma, was allegedly reassured by a superior: 'Don't worry, we're covered.'
But the most chilling part of the demonstrators' ordeal was yet to come. The protesters were loaded into prison vans and taken to the Bolzaneto detention centre. Norman called it 'the sort of place where you know terrible things happen'.
Terrible things did happen. The psychological abuse began. Prisoners, including those with broken limbs, were spread-eagled against a wall for up to two hours while abuse was hurled at them. Prisoners were spat on, urinated on and not allowed to go to the toilet. Some were made to sing fascist songs.
'I could hear people screaming and one woman saying "Please help me, please help me" over and over again,' said Norman.
Then, one by one the prisoners were asked, in broken English: 'Who is your government?' Norman thought they meant what nationality he was, but then he noticed the replies of the others. Taking his cue from his neighbour, he answered in Italian: 'Polizia'. Anything else would almost certainly have meant another beating.
For 24 hours the prisoners were kept awake by the police shouting at them or forcing them to stand. Some began hallucinating from lack of sleep and food. Richard described how one German protester had his clothes confiscated and was made to sit, naked except for a plastic apron.
'When we wanted to go to the toilet, we had to wait. Then they would take us, our heads bowed down, and we would be led by the hair. We would have to walk past rows of police saying things like: "Auschwitz" and "Swastika". I passed one cell whose door window had been covered up with a blanket,' he said.
Nicola saw similar mistreatment. 'Women had their hair cut off. The guards seemed to think they would hang themselves with it. One Kurdish girl had been tortured before in a Turkish jail. She was getting hysterical. They also denied her the medicine she had to take every day,' she said.
One of Nicola's fellow protesters called Daphne, a German girl, had her nose broken when they were forced to stand outside. The police smashed a baton into her face while she had her hands behind her head.
By the time he arrived at prison in Pavia on Monday morning, Norman was relieved to be alive.
'But I still knew anything could happen. I was thinking "I could be in an Italian prison for five years".' At this point, none of the British prisoners had had any contact with the consular authorities. Back home, relatives and loved ones desperate for information had received nothing through official channels. Norman's girlfriend, Melanie Cooper, finally managed to get a telegram to him with the name of a lawyer hours before he was released.
On Wednesday, the suspects were finally brought in front of a magistrate. They were told their arrests were illegal. Though not charged with any crime, none can return to Italy for five years. But at last they were free.
Although British consular staff met them from prison and escorted them to the airport, the British protesters were made to pay for their own air tickets home. Their possessions had been seized, including in some cases, passports and credit cards, and they had only the clothes they stood in or gifts from Italian well-wishers.
Despite the avowed commitment of Foreign Secretary Jack Straw to push the Italian authorities for a full explanation about the events of last week, as we go to press no one from the Foreign Office or the British police has contacted the Genoa Four for statements. However, their interviews with The Observer will form the basis of a file that we will pass on to the Foreign Office.
From the start of the summit violence was inevitable. Both sides prepared for it, both sides expected it. The police were spoiling for a fight. On the Friday morning, before the first brick had been thrown, British protester Andy Hay saw a police vehicle drive by his part of a peaceful march. An officer leaned out and made his hand into the shape of a gun. 'The police were ready for a rumble,' Hay said.
Preparations for violence had been taking place for months. By the time the mass of protesters arrived on Thursday, Genoa was already a city under siege. It had been divided into a 'yellow zone' and an inner 'red zone' ringing the G8 meeting. Police would seek to keep protesters out of both, falling back to the massive fortifications of the red zone if the yellow were over-run.
At a cost of £78 million, more than 20,000 police, army and navy personnel were on alert. Steel fencing had been erected at the 240 entrances to the red zone. The shooting of three protesters in Sweden the previous month had also upped the ante. On Monday the GOM, a special unit of Italian police brought in from Rome, had arrived at Genoa's Bolzaneto jail.
They converted a gym into a makeshift 'recognition centre'. It was here the 'ringleaders' arrested from the school raid would be brought for their brutal interrogation.
But if the defences were medieval in aspect, so was the invading army trying to breach them. By Friday morning tens of thousands had flocked to the city, ranging from unions to anarchists, from grandmothers to teenagers.
But in among the peaceful groups was the 'Black Block', an amorphous hard core of perhaps 2,000 activists, mainly from Italy and Germany, bent on destruction. For them damaging property was the aim, even though they knew it would provoke a police reaction. Despite the intentions of the many, the actions of the few meant chaos was certain.
No one knows for sure exactly where it began. Perhaps some time around noon, as thousands of protesters thronged the streets dancing, waving banners and singing, Black Block anarchists clashed with the police to the north of the red zone. For a few minutes scores of protesters, wearing trademark black clothes and gas masks, trashed a branch of the Credito Italiano bank.
The police response soon followed. It was brutal and city-wide.
London-based protester Alfred Scott, 25, was marching east of the red zone when he noticed smoke to the north. Then a helicopter hovered overhead. Without a single riot policeman in sight, objects began to fall from the chopper, tailing plumes of billowing white as they dropped. They were being bombed with tear gas.
'Half of us had no protection. It just turned into mayhem,' he said. The riot police quickly followed. In scenes repeated across the city they charged and ploughed into the protesters, firing volleys of gas and lashing out with batons. Protesters responded with bricks, poles and cobbles torn from the ancient and winding roads. The battle for Genoa had begun.
It engulfed the whole city centre. Black Block activists split up with some of them intent on breaching the red zone while others targeted buildings and property. Banks, cars, shops and even a prison were attacked.
The fighting was fiercest around Brignole Station, to the east of the Ducal Palace where the G8 leaders were talking. Warning shots were fired into the air as, for half an hour, protesters looted and occupied a nearby post office.
Hours later the shots were for real. Near the Piazza Alimonda, Carlo Giuliani ran forward, a fire extinguisher raised in his hands, to attack a police landrover surrounded by protesters. Inside 20-year-old Sicilian conscript Mario Placanica pointed his pistol and fired. Giuliani fell, mortally wounded.
Panicking wildly, the Land Rover reversed over his body. Protesters rushed forward to help but rounds of tear gas sent them fleeing. Via internet and news wires the word was around the world in minutes. The stakes of global protest had been raised a notch. The protesters of Genoa now had a martyr.
That night, as an uneasy calm descended, the mood was of disbelief. It was also of suspicion. Reports circulated of agents provocateurs who had started the violence, of Black Block activists being dropped off by police vehicles, of right-wingers from Italy or abroad infiltrating their ranks.
To stem the tide, the Genoa Social Forum, an umbrella group of 700 organisations, called for a peaceful march on Saturday morning. The violence had to stop, it said. But even as the flowers began to build up over the bloody spot where Giuliani had died, thousands more people were arriving in the city.
On Saturday, the sun rose over Genoa in a clear sky. By mid-morning an estimated 100,000 people were on the streets. They converged towards the red zone. Battalions of police were waiting for them. At first the marchers, many chanting 'murderers' and 'assassins', accepted being peacefully diverted. But not all. Several thousand refused to move. Again the response was instant. Despite the killing of the previous day, the police reacted even more violently. Scores of protesters reported having tear gas cannisters fired directly at them.
Beatings were random and vicious. Journalists, passers-by, protesters, whether peaceful or violent, were all seen as legitimate targets by a police force gone mad. 'Anyone who got isolated by themselves was in trouble. It was a nightmare,' said Sue, a teacher from North London who had arrived that morning.
The yellow zone was quickly over-run, but the red remained intact. The only breach of the fence was tear gas grenades thrown back over the wire. Inside all was surreally still. As the violence raged, the G8 and their retinues met untroubled, choosing their snacks from 170 different types of cheese, 54 varieties of bread and a cellar of 7,000 bottles of wine.
Outside in the smoke and violence the running battles had ended by early evening. They left behind a scene of devastation. Along the Corso Torino, the main route of the protest, rubble and and burnt- out cars marked the skirmishes. Looted cash machines, yanked from banks walls, were left on the pavements.
The G8 summit quickly ended. An anti-Aids deal for Africa had been agreed but no one was listening. It seemed time to go home. Yet, as many battered and bruised protesters prepared to leave, the order was given to raid the GSF building. After two days of the worst rioting in Western Europe for decades, the police needed the final blow.
Where next? It is the question that looms over protesters and government leaders alike. The answer is likely to be Washington. At the end of September the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank will meet and a repeat of the 1999 Seattle riots seems likely.
The American police, dubbed 'robocops' after Seattle, are unlikely to be any more tolerant than their Italian counterparts. The protests could be the biggest staged in America since the Vietnam war.
The reverberations of Genoa are still thundering around the globe. In the Italian Senate on Friday newly-minted right-wing Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, assailed by criticism from human rights groups, was ashen, bereft of the trademark hyper-confidence.
The night before, the media tycoon's own television station, Canale 5, carried previously unseen pictures of the police raid. His debut on the world stage had been soaked in blood, and would be so remembered forever.
Amnesty International is now set to carry out an investigation into the Italian police's behaviour. It will have first hand evidence of abuses. The head of the organisation's Greek section was beaten by police in the port of Ancona.
But, after the death of Giuliani, the stakes of anti-globalisation protest are higher now. For some the global anti-capitalist movement stands at a crossroads. Many on the 'softer' side of the movement may not want to risk their health on the streets again.
'A great debate on tactics will have to take place. Lots of people still want to be involved. We have to think of ways of doing this without martyrs, but if the state is determined to to have violence they will have it,' said Susan George, author of several books about globalisation.
But, despite the doubts, many activists have been galvanised by the experience of Genoa. The death of Giuliani reinforced their core belief: that the state is afraid of them. For them the fight has just begun. Jonathan Neale, of Globalise Resistance, was clear what it meant for him. 'They cannot win by repressing us. In Genoa, when we were being attacked, we chanted: "We are winning. Don't forget",' he said.
Far from putting off the demonstrators caught up in the thick of the dreadful violence, the actions of the Italian police have already sparked a new series of demonstrations in solidarity. 'A lot of people think this has strengthened us. We've seen a police state in operation and survived it,' said Norman.
The movement's core activists are clearly as determined as ever. The risk of more deaths has become acceptable. It is unlikely Giuliani's bloody killing will be the last.
'It is a war and in a war people die,' said Scott.
Guardian Newspapers Limited 2001