Irish campaigner arrested and beaten


Joe Moffatt, from Drimnagh, was one of the 200 people who travelled from Ireland to join the 300,000 on the streets of Genoa opposing the G8 meeting last July. There were anti-bin tax activists, bus workers against privatisation, environmentalists, socialists and anarchists - all were saying that human needs are more important than profits for the rich.

The Italian State responded with great violence. Marchers were tear gassed and baton charged. Hundreds were hospitalised. One was killed.

Joe told Workers Solidarity about his experience of 'law and order.'

"On the morning of July 22nd a friend and I were walking to a local shop to purchase tobacco. As we walked past a Carabinari station we heard aggressive shouts from a patrol car stationed outside. The car doors flew open and from the corner of my eye I saw one Carabinari lash out at my friend, who fortunately managed to escape.

I was gestured to turn out my pockets and to my complete shock what I thought was a lighter in my left pocket was in reality a small Swiss Army knife, used the night before to open wine. I was immediately handcuffed and driven into the Carabinari complex. The beatings began after about ten minutes. I was punched, kicked, chopped in the back, hit with a coin, and also hit with a stick.

The most frightening experience involved my arresting Carabinari attempting to stab me. When this happened my mind thought of people who had died of gunshot wounds in French detention and for a moment I did question my future. Thankfully other Carabinari took him from the room, otherwise who really knows what would have happened.

All day I heard threats and accusations hurled at me from passing Carabinari. I heard many beatings in the station and also witnessed acts of humiliation against other prisoners - making people behave like dogs. Later that night I was moved to Pavia prison. I was pleased with the move figuring that anyplace is better than the Carabinari station.

On arrival in Pavia I was again beaten, receiving slaps to the face and a vicious kidney punch that left me stooped for a number of days. On my first day I was brought to Court, where a Judge remanded me. Despite being before a Court, the authorities still denied that I was in custody. It was a fellow detainee who, upon release, phoned Dublin. Three days into my detention my friends learned of my location.

On the morning of Wednesday August 8th I was told I was to be released. I was told nothing about my legal process: why was I being deported? was I still charged? Nothing, just driven to the Genoa Airport and sent on my way with no apology or explanation.

Returning to Dublin was fantastic. The media coverage surprised me but this is testimony to the campaign my friends organised to bring the case to public view. I would like to finish with the words of Giuliano Giuliani, father of Carlo Giuliani. His example helped me manage my own crisis: "In the end, we all want the same thing: a better world, or, at least a less disgusting one. But it takes time, patience and caution"


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This edition is No66 published in September 2001

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