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.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
sportWWE latest including Sting vs Triple H, Brock Lesnar vs Roman Reigns and The Undertaker vs Bray Wyatt
Arts and Entertainment
Louis Theroux: By Reason of Insanity takes him behind the bars again
tvBy Reason of Insanity, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Cassetteboy's latest video is called Emperor's New Clothes rap
videoThe political parody genius duo strike again with new video
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark, TV review
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
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

Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

Day In a Page

Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

How to make your own Easter egg

Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

Cricket World Cup 2015

Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing