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Mass violence against detainees, torture by agents, is what happened in the prison of Santa Maria Capua Vetere. Very serious facts that are linked to an episode of abuse of power with which, twenty years later, Italy has not come to terms: the Diaz school at the G8 in Genoa

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The judiciary has called it "one of the most dramatic episodes of mass violence against detainees". This is the tragic description of what happened in April 2020 in the prison of Santa Maria Capua Vetere (Caserta), which emerges from months and months of analysis of the chats of prison officers, audio, surveillance cameras and various reports. There are 117 suspects and now 52 have received precautionary measures, such as house arrest and interdictions. This concerns both the alleged perpetrators of the violence and those who tried to hide them, such as some ASL doctors and prison managers.

The agents allegedly committed indiscriminate abuses against inmates, in a sort of revenge after a revolt broke out the evening before and returned in a few hours for the discovery of a positive Covid-19 inmate. There is talk of beating even a prisoner in a wheelchair, punching, slapping and headbuttings with helmets on kneeling and naked prisoners, human tunnels inside which the condemned were passed one by one to beat them en masse. In the chats of the agents there is talk of the "Santa Maria method", while the prisoners are defined as "calves to be killed", "cattle" and other delusions of exaltation of violence.

It has been exactly twenty years since Italy was the scene of what Amnesty International called "the most serious suspension of democratic rights in Europe after the Second World War". In July 2001 in Genoa, in the days of the G8, a wound opened that has not yet healed today, with the Mexican butcher of the Diaz school and the Bolzaneto barracks, the death of Carlo Giuliani and the indiscriminate violence of the police in the streets against protesters. It was torture on a large scale, as recently reiterated by the European Court of Human Rights, but in Italy there was not even a law that provided for this crime, which arrived only in 2017.

The abuses of power committed in the course of the G8 in Genoa were mostly covered, the protagonists of the violence at best remained in their place, at worst they even received promotions and today Italy continues to pay for not having been able to really deal with that tragedy of twenty years ago, of not having taken a step beyond that shame. And the Genoa method, with episodes of indiscriminate violence by the police, cover-ups and widespread silence, torture à la Bolzaneto and Diaz, continues today to stain the daily life of the beautiful country, especially its prisons. What has emerged in these hours in the institute of Santa Maria Capua Vetere is in fact only the tip of the iceberg: since Italy has adopted a law on torture, it has been discovered that torture exists in the country, indeed if it exists.

Associazione Antigone has collected all the cases of application of this "new crime" within the Italian prison system. There is the prison police officer sentenced last January for torture against a detainee in the Ferrara prison. There is the first degree sentence for torture and aggravated injuries against ten agents of the San Gimignano prison, which arrived last February. There are precautionary measures, including house arrest, arranged in January for several agents accused of torture against detainees in the Florentine prison of Sollicciano. There are other precautionary measures issued in 2019 against 13 agents of the Lorusso and Cutugno prison in Turin, for an investigation into alleged torture and other abuses committed against the condemned. And then there are plenty of other investigations in an even more embryonic state, from the Milanese Institute of Opera to the Emilian Institute of Modena, passing through Melfi, Pavia and other prisons.

There is a problem of abuses of power and violence in Italian prisons which is the child of impunity following the tragic events of the G8 in Genoa twenty years ago. All this time we have continued to close our eyes, we have had to wait 16 years for a law on lame torture and which is only now starting to take its course, we have continued to oppose common sense measures like that identification codes on agents' uniforms to better identify any abuses. Meanwhile, an important slice of politics has paved the way for all this, allowing the Genoa method to continue its course today. From the leader of the Brothers of Italy Giorgia Meloni who defined the law on torture as a law that prevents law enforcement from doing their job, to the head of the Lega Matteo Salvini who every time an investigation for torture breaks out in prisons runs to to give his solidarity to the investigated agents - he did so also in these hours, announcing a visit to Santa Maria Capua Vetere to offer symbolic support.

Italy is still mired in the horror of twenty years ago and the political-social context does not seem to herald imminent improvements.

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