Europe

Italian police 'tortured' Genoa G8 protester, says ECHR

Clashes in Genoa, Italy in July 2001 Image copyright AP
Image caption Hundreds of people, including police, were injured during violence at the meeting of world leaders in 2001

An Italian police attack on a protester at the 2001 G8 summit in Genoa amounted to "torture", the European Court of Human Rights has ruled.

Arnaldo Cestaro, who was 62 at the time, was badly hurt after being struck by truncheons in a police raid on a school housing the protesters.

The court also criticised Italian law's apparent failure to prohibit torture.

The Genoa summit was marked by violent clashes between anti-globalisation protesters and police.

Mr Cestaro was staying in the Diaz-Pertini school when a riot squad stormed the building looking for members of the "black bloc" group of violent agitators.

Punishment

Witnesses said the occupants lay on the floor without resisting, but police beat them with batons anyway. Other cases are pending before the court.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Neighbourhoods in Genoa witnessed scenes of havoc as demonstrators clashed with police
Image caption The court in Strasbourg criticised Italy for failing to properly legislate against torture

Mr Cestaro suffered fractures and other injuries, which the ECHR said qualified as torture or inhuman treatment under EU law. The court ordered Italy to pay him damages of €45,000 (£33,000; $49,000).

The Strasbourg-based court also urged Italy to ensure it has proper sanctions against torture, saying current law "was inadequate for the punishment of such acts and not an effective deterrent against their repetition".

Mr Cestaro's attackers have never been identified.

In 2012, several officers were found guilty of falsifying evidence concerning the raid. However, more serious charges of grievous bodily harm and libel were dropped because the statute of limitations had expired.

The Italian government said it fully understood the reasoning behind the court's decision.

It was working to "fill the gap" in legislation to criminalise torture, said Sandro Gozi, the government's undersecretary for EU affairs told the Associated Press news agency.

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