From Il Piccolo, February 6 2013
Translation act for freedom now/B.pd
A prisoner complains about being subjected to extortion in the prison of Pordenone. The governor replies he has never seen any formal complaint.
“I’m being detained in the prison of Pordenone. I want all citizens to know about the conditions we are enduring here.” This is the beginning of a letter written by Cosimo Damiano Giannella, 48, born in Foggia but a resident in Trieste for many years. He’s being detained for more than a year following offences ranging from theft, violent behaviour and stalking. Giannella declares he’s speaking also on behalf of other prisoners.
“In the morning we spend two and a half hours in the exercise yard, in the afternoon just one. We are five in a cell of five square metres and we don’t even have the space to turn around.” Making friends in prison? The guards don’t allow us to do so, Giannella explains. And he adds: “The cells lack adequate sanitation, for example there are no bidets. Hot water is not in accordance with health and safety, there are no smoke detectors or hydrants, and the heating never works. We take turns to have a shower as there are only four of them available. The food parcels brought in by our beloved ones end up in the storage room and when we are delivered them the food is rotten, which also represents economic damage. “
The denunciation of the 48-year-old prisoner continues when he says that protected prisoners come into contact with the other prisoners and that the prison can contain 50 prisoners but “we are 96 of us inside here, crammed like sardines.” And he concludes: “While being locked up here we are subjected to extortion.”
These are very serious accusations, which the governor of the Pordenone prison, Alberto Quagliotto, rejects firmly: “If one states he’s a victim of extortion he must address the judge and name the perpetrator. No one spoke to me, nor did I see any formal complaint. Extortion is a serious offence and should be denounced immediately.”
As for the other problems raised by Giannella, Quagliotto says that “yes, overcrowding is a problem in this prison as is in all other prisons, and this is a serious matter for those who have to share few square metres.” In this respect, Italy was admonished by the European Court of Human Rights owing to overcrowding in prisons. Governor Quagliotto continues: “But it is not true that hot water doesn’t work or that guards prevent prisoners from forging friendships. No serious violent case has ever occurred in the prison of Pordenone, just small episodes like those that can happen everywhere”.