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.

Life & Style
Sampling wine in Turin
food + drink...and abstaining may be worse than drinking too much, says scientist
Arts & Entertainment
Kingdom Tower
architecture
Sport
Jose Mourinho restrains his assistant manager Rui Faria, Fabio Borini celebrates his winning penalty and Connor Wickham equalises for Sunderland
sportChelsea 1 Sunderland 2: Deafeat is extra bitter as former Chelsea player Fabio Borini scores late penalty to seal victory
Arts & Entertainment
Game of Thrones writer George R.R. Martin has been working on the novels since the mid-Nineties
books
VIDEO
News
Easter a dangerous time for dogs
these are the new ones. Old ones are below them... news
News
Brand said he
people
Sport
Roger Federer celebrates his victory over Novak Djokovic in the Monte Carlo Masters
sport
Voices
Actor Zac Efron
voicesTopless men? It's as bad as Page 3, says Howard Jacobson
Arts & Entertainment
The monster rears its head as it roars into the sky
film
Voices
For the Love of God (2007) The diamond-encrusted skull that divided the art world failed to sell for
its $100m asking price. It was eventually bought by a consortium
which included the artist himself.
voicesYou can shove it, Mr Webb – I'll be having fun until the day I die, says Janet Street-Porter
Extras
indybestFake it with 10 best self-tanners
Arts & Entertainment
Madonna in her music video for 'Like A Virgin'
music... and other misheard song lyrics
News
Much of the colleges’ land is off-limits to locals in Cambridge, with tight security
educationAnd has the Cambridge I knew turned its back on me?
News
peopleOrlando Bloom the pin-up hero is making a fresh start
News
Who makes you happy?
happy listSend your nominations now for the Independent on Sunday Happy List
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
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Apprentice IT Technician

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is a company that specializ...

1st Line Technical Service Desk Analyst IT Apprentice

£153.75 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is an innovative outsourcin...

1st Line Helpdesk Engineer Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company has been providing on site ...

Sales Associate Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: We've been supplying best of breed peopl...

Day In a Page

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

Jury still out on Pellegrini

Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit