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Swedish Court Sentences Man For Attacking Police During EU Summit - 2001-07-31

A court in Gothenburg, Sweden has sentenced an Italian man to two-and-a-half years in prison for attacking police during riots that marred a European Union (EU) summit in the city in mid-June. Luigino Longo, a resident of Norway, is the latest of 16 people who have been sentenced to jail terms ranging from six months to 30 months for taking part in the riots.

Luigino Longo denied attacking police but did admit to taking part in one of two riots that overshadowed the EU summit in Gothenburg. Still, the court found the Italian guilty of throwing a heavy object at police and sentenced him to 30 months in jail. It also ordered that he be deported from Sweden upon serving his sentence and barred from reentering the country for 10 years.

Swedish police arrested 51 people in connection with the unrest that struck normally placid Gothenburg while leaders of the EU's 15 nations were meeting in the city. Anti-globalization protests degenerated into violent clashes with police that left three people injured by police gunfire and dozens of stores, shops, and restaurants destroyed.

In addition to Luigino Longo, six Swedes, six Danes, two Germans, and a Briton have been sentenced to prison for violent behavior.

Last week, the Gothenburg court sentenced a 20 year-old Swedish man to 30 months in jail for planning acts of violence in advance of the summit. It also handed down a 15-month sentence to a 24 year-old German for striking police officers with an iron bar. And it gave nine months to another Swede for encouraging bystanders to take part in the rioting and distributing cobblestones to throw at police. A fourth man, a British library worker, was sentenced to a year in jail and ordered expelled from Sweden once he completes his sentence.

The court last week also acquitted five Danish activists accused of plotting to attack the summit. Police found pipe bombs two days before the meeting in the Gothenburg apartment they had rented, but their lawyers argued that the bombs could have been placed there by someone other than the defendants, and the court acquitted them for lack of evidence.

The Gothenburg riots were the worst ever seen during an EU summit. But they were minor compared to the violence that marred the Group of Eight summit in Genoa, Italy, five weeks later. One rioter was killed by police in the Genoa clashes. Hundreds of people were injured. More than 200 arrests were made. And the violence did millions of dollars worth of damage.