The government will pay out €45,000 in damages to each of six victims as well as legal costs in an amicable settlement, the European Court of Human Rights said on Thursday. The ruling came 16 years after the incident described by Amnesty as the worst violation of human rights in a western country “since the Second World War”.
Clashes took place at the port city's Bolzaneto barracks during the summit, where around 250 anti-globalization protesters said police spat at, verbally and physically humiliated, and threatened to rape them.
That incident followed another raid on protesters legally camping out at a school in the city.
According to a report by Amnesty International, many of the protesters in the school were asleep at the time and were subjected to “deliberate and gratuitous beatings”. Of the 82 people wounded, 61 sustained serious injuries and three were left in critical condition.
After the raid, protesters put a sign up in the school reading “Don’t clean up the blood”, in a bid to gather evidence of police brutality.
One of the reasons for the acquittal of the most serious charges against policemen involved is that torture was not – and still isn't – a crime in Italy.
Rights groups have long campaigned for Italy to make torture a crime, but the law has repeatedly been delayed in the Italian parliament and Senate.
In 2015, a damning ECHR ruling on a suit filed by one of the protesters said there were “acts of torture sustained” and found “the Italian criminal legislation… was inadequate for the punishment of such acts and not an effective deterrent against their repetition.”
Italy was ordered to pay the complainant €45,000, setting a precedent for other victims of police brutality at the summit. Following the verdict, rights campaigners upped their calls for the criminalization of torture.
Last month however, the Council of Europe said Italy had not taken sufficient measures to comply with the ECHR ruling, and urged the country to “finalize without delay” the bill which is currently pending.