Accusations fly in wake of Rome riots

Police yesterday raided hundreds of homes across Italy, from Milan to Palermo, in search of far-left Black Bloc activists who trashed areas of central Rome during Saturday's anti-capitalism protests.

Police yesterday raided hundreds of homes across Italy, from Milan to Palermo, in search of far-left Black Bloc activists who trashed areas of central Rome during Saturday's anti-capitalism protests.

Amid claims that the perpetrators of the violence had received guerrilla warfare training in Athens, ministers said anti-terrorism laws might be invoked to crack down on the culprits. But with the country still stunned at the ferocity of Saturday's violence, accusation and counter-accusation sprang up on how the rioters, dubbed “anarcho-insurrectionists” by the Italian press, were able to run amok for so long.

The rioters used clubs and sledgehammers to smash banks and shops, torched police and private vehicles and hurled rocks, before the police with tear gas, water cannon and batons were finally able to quell the violence.

More than 100 of the 135 people injured were police officers. And only 12 people were arrested on Saturday, leading to accusations that authorities had completely mishandled the situation. This was denied by the junior interior minister Alfredo Mantovano.

But despite hundreds of homes being raided by lunchtime yesterday, just six more people were detained, adding to the impression that police had had failed to keep tabs on the loose-knit network of Black Bloc activists, described by mainstream newspapers, including La Stampa, as coming largely from the extremist fringes of Italy's many left-wing social centres.

Photos began to spring up across the internet showing groups of Black Bloc protesters wearing the same black crash helmets, several hundred strong, milling in the capital before the violence started. These appeared to undermine claims by the authorities that the violent demonstrators could not have been isolated and stopped sooner.

One theory expressed by some peaceful activists and politicians was that the authorities had initially allowed the violent demonstrators to cause problems in order to discredit the mainstream demonstration -- without realising how well organised the rioters actually were.

Antonio Di Pietro, a former magistrate and leader of the opposition Italy of Values Party, said serious questions had to be asked about the police response.

“Whoever took charge of the situation in the interior ministry, including the minister, underestimated the situation," he said. "Either he was unable to provide sufficient prevention and infiltration or he did not want to perform this role. And perhaps this raises questions that the rioters were not stopped in order to divert attention away from the democratic significance of the main demonstration.”

One Black Bloc rioter interviewed by La Repubblica newspaper said that he received training in “urban guerrilla warfare” with fellow anarchists during trips to Greece over the past 12 months and he warned that the "war is not over."

"We've been wanting to smash everything up for about a year. Now we know how to do it. In Rome, we won because we had a plan," said the 30-year-old referred to only as "F". He added that rioters in Rome had split into two groups to fool police into thinking there were fewer of them than there really were, and had stashed weapons in strategic locations for use against the security forces.

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
Life and Style
The veteran poverty campaigner Sir Bob Geldof issues a stark challenge to emerging economies at the Melbourne HIV/Aids conference
health
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch and John Malkovich talk Penguins of Madagascar at Comic-Con
comic-con 2014Cumberbatch fans banned from asking about Sherlock at Comic-Con
Arts and Entertainment
Chris Pratt stars in Guardians of the Galaxy
filmGuardians Of The Galaxy should have taken itself a bit more seriously, writes Geoffrey Macnab
News
Sir Chris Hoy won six Olympic golds - in which four events?
news
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
life
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SAP Data Migration Lead

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Experienced Lead SAP Data Manager Requir...

Trainee Recruitment Consultants - Banking & Finance

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000: SThree: SThree Group have been well e...

Graduate Recruitment Resourcers - Banking Technologies

£18000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000: SThree: Huxley Associates are looking...

Implementation Engineer

£150 - £200 per day: Orgtel: Implementation Engineer Hampshire / London (Gre...

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform