July 29 2001 EUROPE
General faces Genoa inquiry
John Follain Rome
THE Italian general in charge of the special police accused of beating dozens of British and other protesters at the G8 meeting in Genoa is to be called in for questioning by magistrates, who are leading an inquiry into the violence.
Judicial sources said this weekend that General Alfonso Mattiello would be asked to account for the actions of a detachment of his 1,000-strong black-gloved force, the Mobile Operative Group (GOM). The unit, part of the penitentiary police, has a history of brutality.
Investigators have appealed for Britons and other foreigners to come forward and testify after official denials that any violence at all took place at the Bolzaneto barracks, to which 222 demonstrators were taken. "We publicly invite the young people who were detained, and the police officers who witnessed something, to contact us," said Francesco Pinto, a Genoa magistrate who launched the inquiry last week.
According to a police officer who refused to have his name published, a 100-strong group of GOM officers, which was sent to the barracks in Genoa, is to blame for the violence.
"The young people would come out of the vans and the beating would start,"the officer said. "The police made them stand against the wall. One by one they knocked their heads against the wall. One girl was vomiting blood and the GOM guys just stood and watched. They threatened to rape the girls with their truncheons."
Roberto Castelli, the justice minister, said he had been present in the barracks on the night of the alleged incidents and "saw no violence". Castelli, who is responsible for the unit, later said he had spent only part of the night at the barracks.
The GOM unit is deployed to deal with prison revolts. It is also responsible for ensuring the security of the most dangerous inmates, including mafia bosses held in isolation.
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