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'Treated like a dog': Transgender woman sues over Italian police brutality

AFP
AFP - [email protected]
'Treated like a dog': Transgender woman sues over Italian police brutality
File photo of Milan police by MIGUEL MEDINA / AFP.

A Brazilian transgender woman brutally beaten by Italian police in an attack captured in a video that went viral is suing for torture and bodily harm, her lawyer said on Tuesday.

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The mayor of Milan, Giuseppe Sala, meanwhile confirmed the officers would face disciplinary action over the incident last Thursday in the northern city, while prosecutors have opened an investigation.

In the graphic footage, three police officers can be seen circling the woman, hitting her on the head and ribs with their batons and spraying her in the face with pepper spray as she sits on the street, her hands in the air.

The woman was then forced to the ground, handcuffed and taken away.

Lawyer Debora Piazza told AFP her client, known only by the pseudonym Bruna, was then left injured in a locked patrol car for 20 minutes.

"In that time she had trouble breathing and thought she was dying," she said.

The woman is suing for torture and bodily harm aggravated by abuse of public office and discrimination, Piazza said.

A Milan prosecutor confirmed to AFP that she was investigating the allegations of police brutality against "a 41-year-old Brazilian transgender woman".

Piazza said her client was "not at all well, especially from a psychological point of view" after the attack.

Sala said Tuesday the officers would be disciplined while warning against "crucifying the police".

Daniele Vincini, head of the SULPL police union, told Corriere della Sera newspaper the officers had not beaten the woman to hurt her.

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The beatings were "to subdue her", he said, claiming that she had been spitting blood in their faces and "they did what they could".

Such overt police brutality is rare in Italy and the incident made headlines in the media for several days.

"I felt like I was treated like a dog," Bruna herself told the Corriere della Sera daily after the attack.

"I put my hands up, I asked them not to hit me. I was so scared," she said.

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