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Italian protester's kiss was 'sexual violence'

Published: 12 Dec 2013 16:52 GMT+01:00

Franco Maccari, the Secretary General of Coisp, the Italian police officers' union, said during an interview on Radio24 that he had pressed charges against the demonstrator who kissed an officer's helmet. The kiss took place during a protest march against controversial plans for a new high-speed TAV train line.

He explained that if it had happened the other way round, with a police officer kissing a protestor, “World War Three would have broken out.”

At the time, Nina De Chiffre, the 20-year-old protestor from Milan, told La Stampa “I wanted to make fun of them [the police], and I would say that we were successful.”

Indeed, the photo was shared in newspapers and websites worldwide, though at first it was interpreted as a message of peace and reconciliation.

Maccari said: “We're tired of taking blows from the No TAV group – and not just from them. Today, protesting is a sacred right, but when they overstep the line of legality, there can be no flexibility.”

De Chiffre, however, feels it is the police who overstep the line, and told La Repubblica in November: “I wanted that policeman to remember what happened to Marta from Pisa. Last July, she was beaten, with no consequences for the officers.”  De Chiffre was referring to a fellow activist from the 'No TAV' group, who reported harassment and humiliation from police following a demonstration.

The recipient of De Chiffre's kiss, riot officer Salvatore Piccione, reacted calmly to the incident, saying: “When I'm wearing my uniform I represent the police institution, and I have an obligation not to react to provocation. The important thing is that, in the end, the demonstration went ahead without disturbance.”

Meanwhile, Italy has been hit by a series of anti-prosperity protests this week. READ MORE HERE: 'Protests could become dangerously rebellious'

Construction of the high-speed line, which will reduce journey time from Milan to Paris from seven to four hours, has already begun, despite the protests of campaigners who argue it is too expensive and unnecessary.

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Catherine Edwards (catherine.edwards@thelocal.com)

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