British G8 protesters win access to consul

Click to follow

Five British protesters held by Italian police after the street violence at the G8 summit in Genoa last week are finally to be given access to diplomats, the Foreign Office confirmed yesterday.

Four of the demonstrators had not been allowed to see consular staff or lawyers since they were arrested in a police raid on the headquarters of a protest group on Saturday.

The British consul in Milan will see Richard Moth, 32, from north London, Daniel MacQuillan, 35, and Jonathan Blair, 38, from Newport, at the police centre where they are being held in Pavia, northern Italy.

He will also visit Mr Moth's girlfriend, Nicola Doherty, 27, at a separate centre in Voghera, and Mark Covell, 33, from London, who remains in hospital suffering from internal bleeding and broken ribs.

Mr Covell has already been seen once by the consul, on Sunday morning, shortly after he was admitted to hospital.

Campaigners for Miss Doherty and Mr Moth had complained they were being held under conditions that breached their human rights.

Jonathan Neale, of Globalise Resistance, the anti-capitalist group of which the pair were members, said they had been further beaten while in police custody and that pressure was being exerted "from on top" to keep them out of the public eye.

The Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, said that the claims would be investigated. He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "If there are allegations of assault, they of course need to be investigated."

Stephen Jakobi, director of Fair Trials Abroad, claimed that the arrests by Italian police showed a "complete disregard for international law". Denying suspects consular access for at least 48 hours was in "clear defiance" of the 1963 Vienna Convention on diplomatic matters, he said.

He added that it was also "discriminatory" that 15 Italian citizens had been released without charge while only foreigners remained under arrest and investigation.

The former Labour MP Tony Benn, the campaigning journalist John Pilger and the American linguist Noam Chomsky have called for Mr Moth and Ms Doherty to be released. The three are among some 300 people who have put their names to an open letter produced by Globalise Resistance in support of the detained protesters

Meanwhile, hundreds of people gathered yesterday at a Genoa cemetery to pay respects to a 23-year-old Italian protester who was shot dead last Friday by a policeman during the riots.

Carlo Giuliani, 23, was the first fatality since the anti-globalisation movement began staging protests at world meetings in Seattle in 1999.

Giuliano Giuliani, Carlo's father, said: "Let's try, in Carlo's name, to be united, to refuse violence."

* A Swedish court yesterday sentenced a British librarian to a year in prison for his part in the Gothenburg riots.

Paul Robinson, 32, was filmed throwing seven-pound granite stones at police during violent protests at the three-day EU summit in June.

The father of one, who is from Camden and works at University College, London, will be expelled from Sweden after serving his sentence and barred from re-entering the country for several years.

The court yesterday also sentenced a German and two Swedish men to up to two and a half years in prison for their part in the violence.

About 600 people out of 25,000 protesters were involved in rioting, according to the Swedish police. More than 90 people were injured, including three who were shot by police.