A democratic hiccup

People being stripped and lined up for hours on end, on their knees or standing, their hands and heads against the wall. People insulted, derided, beaten with truncheons, bathed in their own urine and blood, forced to sing fascist hymns and praise the Duce, the Fuhrer. Genitals exposed and abused, ribs broken, fingers forced apart until the whole hand splits, spleens smashed with rifle butts and boots; doctors and nurses standing to one side, refusing assistance. Women threatened with rape or fingered or forced to dance for their captors, men’s balls kicked until they bled. Faces sprayed with tear gas, spat on, slapped.

The allied prisons in Abu Ghraib? The stadium in Santiago that other 9/11?

No. Genoa. G8. July 2001. Two months after Berlusconi came to power. When, as we now say, ‘democracy was suspended’. On the basis of what we know, because there is no lack of evidence, the people – men and women, guards and medical staff – directly responsible for what happened in the Bolzaneto barracks a few kilometres outside Genoa should be charged with, and imprisoned for, acts of torture. But the Italian penal code, based as it is on the notion that Italy is a democracy, doesn’t envisage the crime of torture. Their crimes are considered ‘minor’; what’s more, unless the courts get a move on, the criminals will all be released under the statute of limitations.

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