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GENOVA - A policeman serving with the Bolzaneto Flying Squad, whose name and rank are known to La Repubblica but which we will not release for reasons of privacy, talks about the "Chilean Nights" of the G8 summit. "Unfortunately, it's all true. More even. I still have the smell in my nose, the smell of the faeces of those arrested who were not allowed to use a toilet." But that night actually began a week before, when about a hundred officers of the Penitentiary Police "Gruppo operativo mobile [Mobile Operative Group]" arrived here.
This is the first of the many unknown backdrops to the dramatic G8 Saturday. Our interviewee admits that "there is still much fascism in the Police, a subculture of easily-influenced youngsters and of those who applauded that night. But the butchery was carried out by others, the ones from the Penitentiary Police GOM."
And the systematic beatings in the school? "That was us. Some say it was retaliation, but others are saying that clear orders had come from Rome: to make arrests at whatever cost. The operation was carried out by colleagues from the Rome Mobile Unit, the capital's Flying Squad. And directing everything were the top ranks of the SCO and NOCS, and definitely not the Genoese Police Department. It was madness. For the victims, for our public image and for the risk of general rioting. In the police station that night, some of us were swearing like crazy, because if the news had reached the 20,000 or so who were leaving from Brignole station, there would have been an uprising."
The transformation of Bolzaneto police station into a 'lager' began on the Monday with the arrival of the GOM, a special department created in 1997 with an ex-general of the SISDE [Italian secret service] and protagonist in the severe repression at Opera prison as its head. As soon as they arrived, dressed in military green jumpsuits, black multi-pocketed waistcoats with heavy black belts to which were attached their handguns, handcuffs and truncheons, and each with a walkie-talkie attached to their shoulder, they took over the part of the police station which, several weeks before the summit, had been converted to holding cells with medical room for anyone arrested during the summit.
The gym was turned into an arrival checkpoint and identification centre. Any protestors who were arrested would be brought here, those who had identification whould show it, and fingerprints of everyone would be taken. Beside the gym, on the left beside the tennis court, there is a small building which was renovated specially for the summit and turned into a real prison. At the entrance there are two large open rooms which are a sort of antechamber. Here, on Saturday night until late Sunday morning, the second-in-command of the Genoa DIGOS [special branch] was stationed with some police officers from the station and some Carabinieri.
"What happened at the school and continued here in Bolzaneto was the suspension of rights, a hole in the constitution. I tried to talk about it to some of my colleagues and do you know what they said? That we don't need to worry because we're covered!"
That night? "The gate opened continually", says the policeman "those kids were getting out of the vans and were slapped around. They were lined up against the walls. Once inside, they had their heads smacked off the wall. Some officers pissed on them, others hit them if they refused to sing "Faccetta Nera" ["Little Black Face", an old fascist song from the days of the Italian Empire in Eritrea]. One girl was vomiting blood with the guys from the GOM just looking at her. Girls were threatened that they would be raped with truncheons...anyway, it's pointless me telling you things you've already read."
And what about you and the others? "Well, there weren't many of us there. Most were still in Genova blocking off the red zone. Anyway, some of us approved of it all, others instead tried to do something, like one inspector who stopped a beating saying 'You're not on your own patch now'. And then there were ones like me who maybe didn't do much, but are +ashamed of it now." And if the GOM hadn't been there? "I don't think that the butchery would have taken place. Our commander is a hard case, but of the old style, one of those who still have a sense of honour and who know how to educate men, we call him Rommel".
Whatever happened to democratic policemen? "There's still a lot of us", the policeman replies, "but these days we're afraid, and ashamed."(26 July 2001)
[Translation by NMcN]
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