ITALY: Twenty activists released



Twenty activists, including members of an Austrian theatre group PublixTheatre, held since the enormous protests against the G8 summit of world leaders in Genoa, Italy, on July 20-21, have been released from prison. But as many as 30 are still being detained.

An Italian court on August 14 ordered the release of the 20 protesters and their immediate deportation. The group includes 15 Austrians, one Swede, one Slovak and three US citizens, among them 21-year-old Quaker Susanna Thomas, whose detention had become a cause of much controversy in her home country.

On her release, she urged people across the world to continue to press for freedom for others still being held. "There are lots of political prisoners still in jail, and they all need help and support and prayers and solidarity", she said.

Five other people arrested at the same time remained in custody but were also likely to be freed soon. Charges against the group of 25 included vandalism, endangering public safety and participating in a criminal organisation.

Police had alleged that they were members of the "Black Bloc", an anarchist group which authorities have sought to blame for damage to private property — parked cars, shop and bank windows, etc. — during the anti-G8 protests. The police seized two penknives, juggling sticks and a black bra from a van taking PublixTheatre members out of Genoa as proof of their allegations.

The case has increased public criticism of the Italian police's actions during the G8 summit. The police are already under fire for their brutal tactics, during which officers injured scores of people and killed a 23-year-old protester. At least 50 of those detained have already filed formal complaints against police.

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