On April 29, 2013, the Surveillance Court of Genoa dismissed alternative community sentences for Vincenzo Canterini and Gilberto Caldarozzi, two of the high-ranking police officers responsible for police brutality and the fabrication of false evidence during the 2001 anti-G8 protests in Genoa.
At the time, Canterini and Caldarozzi were serving respectively as Commander of the VII Operational Police Nucleus (Reparto Mobile, special units covering a given area) and as Vice Commander of the Police Central Operative Service (SCO). They were found guilty of fabricating the evidence used to justify the raid on the Diaz School on July 21, 2001, including two fake Molotov cocktails. That night, 93 activists were brutally beaten up as they slept. Many reported nearly lethal injuries.
Despite their involvement in this raid, Caldarozzi was promoted to Chief Officer, while Canterini retired from service with the prestigious title of Police Superintendent (Questore). The verdict came on July 15 2012, over ten years after the original events, amidst polemical argument and questionable defences of the officers on trial from high-profile officers such as Gianni de Gennaro (the National Chief of Italian Police).
Initially, Canterini was sentenced to 5 years on two different charges, forgery and wounding: however, the terms for the latter charge had expired due to the Italian prescription laws. His sentence, thus reduced to a total of 3 years and 3 months, was further shortened to 3 months only, due to the 2006 pardon law (indulto), originally passed by the Prodi cabinet in 2006 to relieve the overcrowded Italian penitentiary system. Caldarozzi, initially sentenced to 3 years and 8 months, also saw his sentence shortened to 8 months.
Italy still lacks a law on torture and this means that the police are able to act with substantial impunity. Had a law on torture been on the statute book, there would have been a legal case to be brought against the inhuman violence during the raid and later in Bolzaneto, a police post turned into a temporary and illegal detention facility. In addition, the prescription terms would have been avoided. In July 2012, Amnesty International reminded the former Minister of Justice, Paola Severino, of this shameful void in the Italian legal system, in patent violation of the 1987 Convention against Torture.
Canterini and Caldarozzi are the first police officers whose sentence (however watered down) has actually been applied. Other officers (including high-profile figures such as Francesco Gratteri and Giovanni Lupperi) are still awaiting a final response from the Surveillance Court.
The decision of the Surveillance Court has little practical effect: Canterini and Caldarozzi will serve the remaining period of their terms in the form of house arrest, also due to the pardon law. The Surveillance Court also granted them permission to leave their houses for two hours a day.
Meanwhile, protesters sentenced for their involvement in looting and material damages are serving their terms in prison, amounting to dozens of years.