LOVE AND STRENGTH FOR ALL PERSECUTED PEOPLE;
A story already written? A few notes on the appeal trial against the Salento anarchists.
Ideas and laws, passion and social peace.
This story has often showed strong conflicts between those who expressed freely their ideas and those who attempted to repress them; between those who struggled with determination so that migrants were not locked up for not having an ID document, and those who boasted that locking up migrants was a question of security. On the one side the anarchists, on the other police, magistrates, the Church on charge of a CPT [immigration detention centre], journalists and politicians. All this, however, does not give a complete picture of what has happened and of what is still at stake.
March 2005: the CPT run by the Lecce clergy closes down for good. In the last years of its existence, hunger strikes, revolts and escapes carried out by the imprisoned immigrants have continuously occurred. Outside the CPT, a tenacious opposition by some anarchists and the protests of other groups. Meantime the violence perpetrated in the centre by his manager, priest Cesare Lodeserto, the carabinieri working with him and some of his aides becomes publicly known. Lodeserto gets arrested and later charged, among other things, with committing acts of violence and with kidnapping. The State, however, cannot put itself and its friends on trial and leave its arch-enemies free. Thus, in May 2005 some anarchists also get arrested and accused of belonging to a subversive association, whereas many others are put under investigation. After a long period of detention, four of them are charged with organized crime, three others with minor crimes and eight are acquitted. Although the sentences inflicted on them are heavy, the comrades are by then free and continue with their activity. A hush falls over the whole story, including the various legal proceedings against Lodeserto and his companions. Meantime the CPT are transformed into CIE (Identification and Deportation Centres), migrants’ boats full of desperation are immediately sent back to other concentration camps, a witch hunt against foreigners and the diverse is the strong point of the xenophobic and security-obsessed governments that follows one another on the Italian scene. The CIE become precious tools employed by power in order to contain the undesirable and to regulate, through reclusion and repression, cheap labour liable to be blackmailed (so called illegal immigrants). All this becomes routine in Lecce, until new arrivals of desperate migrants on boats bring the question back to the general attention. Certainly this is not the decisive aspect for the judges who, on December 9, will pronounce the appeal sentence towards the anarchists on trial. There is much more at stake around this trial, as proved by the way it has developed. The first judge, after postponing the sentence in a long series of hearings, has clearly demonstrated his unwillingness to go on and his intention to pass the hot potato to others. The second judge has delayed the sentence for three times, adopting pretexts quite ‘abnormal’ according to current procedures.
The reasons for all this are not easily identifiable but could be found in the prosecutor’s willingness to worsen the charges inflicted on the comrades in the first grade of the trial. If the CIE are so important for dominion, and surely they are, to charge heavily those who have struggled against them is a warning to those who intend to carry on that struggle. The CIE, however, are a thorn on the side of power because of the numerous protests breaking inside and outside them in Italy as well as in the rest of the world. The story of an ex CPT closed down forever as well as the story of a CIE in flames are not good propaganda for the State. And then there are local issues: the power and reputation of the Lecce clergy, which have been badly affected by this story; the affiliation of the same clergy with powerful national politicians (such as a high official of the Home Office); a public prosecutor seeking revenge against some lovers of freedom; the necessity to repress those who do not submit to the established rules. Is this the end of the story? We’ll see! For the moment we can only say that ‘any similarity to actual persons or events is not coincidental’, as the same circumstances and persons can be found in any story where authority clashes with the determination
of those who do not shut their eyes to oppression and injustice. This story does not only concerns the freedom of some but it also poses the question of more freedom for all.
A few anarchists
So-called operation Nottetempo (Night Time) started in May 2005 with a massive police deployment that led to the arrests of 5 anarchists in the Lecce province (southern Italy) and to the investigation of another ten for conspiracy. The comrades had actually been actively engaged in the struggle against the Regina Pacis immigration detention centre of San Foca (Lecce) run by the clergy, which closed down before the beginning of the infamous operation Nottetempo. The tenacious struggle of the local anarchists, in fact, had unveiled the atrocities perpetrated in that prison for immigrants to such a point that the operators of the centre could no longer hide their ignominious activity. Some of them were even put on trial and eventually went abroad, where they carried on their dirty business and managed to repair their reputation.
On the contrary, two of the arrested anarchists spent two years in prison while the others were put under house arrest or subjected to various restrictions. The first grade of the trial concluded in July 2008: as it was impossible for the jury to confirm the existence of a subversive association (article 270bis on conspiracy), they turned to article 416 of the Italian penal code and accused four comrades of forming a ‘criminal association’ (organized crime). Three other comrades were accused of specific crimes and the other eight were acquitted.
Anxious about his career and longing for promotion, public prosecutor Lino Giorgio did not resign himself to the fact that his theory of an anarchist clandestine association had been rejected by the jury. For this reason, a few weeks later, he presented an appeal against this sentence in order for another jury to confirm the accusation of conspiracy against the Lecce anarchists.
The sentence of appeal was to be finally pronounced on February 10 2010, but it has once again been postponed following the decision of the jury to examine further ‘evidence’ provided by the public prosecutor. The intention to charge the anarchists
involved in this shameful story of repression with yet more serious charges is evident, and it is also clear how the local powerful are determined to silence the entire matter as well as the violence and the abuse inflicted on immigrants by the
operators of the Regina Pacis concentration camp. If the latter no longer exists, numerous others can be found all over Italy and everywhere else; but the struggle is also alive, the struggle of those who, inside and outside these concentration camps,
believe that the only fate of these places is that of being destroyed along with the fear, hatred, indifference and racism fomented by power in order to create terror and to stir up a war among the exploited.
Solidarity to the Lecce anarchists!
Destroy all prisons!
To the immigrants
The borders of democracy,
Immigrant murdered, comrades in jail
For those who didn’t run for cover
Collusion between the Church, the State and the Mafia
The struggle against Regina Pacis
Solidarity actions and events
Revolts in Turin, Milan and Bologna
Destroy borders! Destroy slavery!
Destroy all borders and prisons!
Belgium: solidarity against all borders
Greece: Hands off the Immigrants!