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Italian Government To Investigate Police Behavior at G-8 Protests - 2001-07-27


Italy's prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, has told parliament his government will thoroughly investigate charges of police brutality at last weekend's G-8 summit in Genoa. Mr. Berlusconi stressed there would be no government cover-up of police behavior.

In comments to parliament's upper house, the Italian prime minister said, "As far as the government is concerned, we will not cover up the truth." Silvio Berlusconi was referring to the violence that broke out during the G-8 summit and the ensuing accusations of police brutality in putting down the protests.

Many of the demonstrations in Genoa turned into riots with protesters smashing shop-windows, setting fire to cars and garbage dumpsters, and throwing rocks and smoke bombs at the police. One man was killed and hundreds arrested during the protests. Many of those taken into custody said they were beaten by police at the demonstrations and during a midnight raid on a school used as accommodation and press center by the Genoa Social Forum, an umbrella group of 800 different anti-globalization organizations.

So far, Mr. Berlusconi's government has managed to hold off opposition demands for a formal investigation into how the Italian police handled the riots. The prime minister said Friday there would be no cover-up for those who violated the law if there were excesses. But, he added, "We must not confuse those who attacked with those who were attacked." He also expressed his "sadness" at the outcome of the violent demonstrations in Genoa.

During his 40 minute speech, the Italian prime minister reminded the parliament that the summit had largely been prepared by the center-left opposition. "My government," Mr. Berlusconi said, "was unable to change the G-8 preparations made by the previous government." Indeed, he came to power in mid-June, just over one month before the summit.

The prime minister also called the G-8 summit a success where concrete decisions were taken, adding that such meetings must continue because they are "important for the security and peace of the world."

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