British man beaten senseless by Italian police to receive £250,000


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The Independent Online

Eleven years after police severely beat scores of peaceful campaigners at the Genoa G8 meeting, the Italian government is expected to announce within days the first compensation payment, a six-figure sum, to one of the British victims of the violence.

Mark Covell was among the 93 activists attacked when 300 police burst into the Diaz school building on the night of 21 July, 2001.

The police were looking for Black Bloc activists who had unleashed violent protests in the city earlier that day. Instead they found unarmed men and women, young and old, preparing to sleep. Virtually all were severely beaten in one of the most shocking incidents of police brutality to occur in post-war Europe.

Mr Covell suffered a broken hand, eight broken ribs, a shredded left lung, spinal damage, massive internal bleeding and 16 broken teeth. He spent 12 days in intensive care after being flown back to the UK.

Last week a civil court in Genoa recommended that the Italian Interior Ministry award him a sum in the region of €300,000 (£250,000). Mr Covell's lawyer, Lavinia Botto, told i that final negotiations are taking place today with ministry officials.

Another 87 victims of the Diaz violence and another 159 campaigners assaulted at a detention centre in the nearby town of Bolzaneto, are also in line for big payouts.

A total of 25 police officers and prison guards were convicted in connection with the violence. Many are still in their posts ahead of their second appeal at the supreme court against their conviction. "I'm going to stick around until that happens next year," Mr Covell said. "The most important thing is that justice is done."

Prosecutors' investigation into the assault on Mr Covell has been put on hold but could re-start after the compensation case is settled. He claims he knows most of the names of the policemen who attacked him and that some have since been promoted.

Mr Covell, who still has spinal injuries, said that he plans to use to his compensation payment to emigrate to New Zealand.

Another 16 people – including the most senior police officers – have been acquitted of criminal charges relating to Diaz violence.