Italy – On the appeal trial on charges of terrorism against anarchist comrades Chiara Zenobi, Claudio Alberto, Mattia Zanotti and Niccolò Blasi; plus words from anarchist comrade Francesco Sala


Translator’s note: Chiara, Alberto, Mattia and Niccolò spent a year in prison (from December 2013 to December 2014) on charges of terrorism, following an action of sabotage carried out against a TAV construction yard in Chiomonte, Susa Valley, in May 2013. In the first grade trial (December 2014) the charges of terrorism were dropped and the comrades were moved to house arrest. In July 2014 another three comrades, Lucio Alberti,Francesco Sala and Graziano Mazzarelli, were arrested and accused of the same act of sabotage. The terrorism charges pressed against them were also dropped in the first grade trial and the three comrades were moved to house arrest (May 2015), but Lucio was recently jailed again for allegedly breaking his bail conditions (he was ‘caught’ chatting with friends on the landing of his house). Prosecutors in the case against Chiara, Claudio, Mattia and Niccolò submitted a request for an appeal against the sentence quashing the terrorism charges, and a hearing is due on 30th November this year.
 From macerie
Translated by act for freedom now
 On the request of the defence lawyers the second grade trial has been postponed until the Court of Cassation’s reasons for quashing terrorism charges against Lucio, Francesco and Graziano are made known. The next session of the trial will therefore take place on 30th November, when the judges are to decide whether to reopen the investigation [for terrorism], as requested by the prosecutors, or not.  Here is a clip from the Radio Blackout’s transmission Cattivi Pensieri, where the voices of three of the four comrades on trial can be heard.
Words from anarchist comrade Francesco Sala: Thoughts and encouragement in anticipation of the appeal trial for terrorism  ‘Political opposition soon turns into violence and terrorism’.

These words, which would sound credible if pronounced by someone like Lupi [Transport and Infrastructures Minister], Alfano [Interior Minister], Esposito [a councillor in Rome] or maybe if dropped by Numa [a journalist of La Stampa]’s vehement pen, actually belong to Nikolaj Ivanovic Ezov, the first Stalin’s inquisitor at the time massive purges were being mounted. He led NKVD [Soviet secret police] and achieved a remarkable record in terms of summary executions, before he was summarily gunned down himself after bureaucratic power decided that his role of zealous servant was no longer needed.  It’s unbelievable how these few words sum up the feelings of anxiety for control and the hysteria felt by the men in power when they feel under threat and sense that things are not going as they should or as they had planned. It is the hysteria of order in the face of disorder. A feeling common to many tyrants (who are in fact notoriously nervous, suspicious and paranoid people) and also to many TAV supporters, with the due differences.
Whoever has followed the events in Val Susa for thevlast two, three years even only superficially, will have realized that between the supporters of the [TAV] project and its opponents a conflict has established itself, not only a material one but also a narrative one, that is to say one meant to define what was happening. On the one hand, those who were set against with a NO were talking (and are still talking) of resistance and re-appropriation of the territory, of a practice, of strength, etc.; on the other hand those who stubbornly insisted (and are still insisting) on transforming a valley into an eternal building site were giving their own definitions of the struggle against a project of exploitation of the territory. A State slightly more intelligent than the one that Ezov and his comrades fought and won knows well that pure repression is not very efficient if it is not accompanied by policies that support it. In the absence of this kind of policy it is at least required that formal consensus is created around the boldest and most innovative blows of repression, which would allow not only to shatter the very struggle they are meant to strike, but also to legitimize a new instrument of control in the hands of the State before society.
The ‘Compressor’ trial (and the charges of terrorism it involves), which will soon stage an appeal session, is the climax of a strategy that aims to: criminalize one of the few mass movements in recent years; sow terror among those who actually oppose economic choices that are only useful to the powerful but are passed off as works of public interest; arm the State with all possible instruments of repression and deterrent; and, en passant, neutralise anyone who ends up in its tangles with name and surname. In the face of all this there are still people who are surprised at how the NO TAV struggle has gone beyond the boundaries of a mere debate on a high speed train… Talking about technical matters (which is boring but we have to face a trial anyway), it must be noted how the discrepancy with reality displayed by the Turin prosecutors progresses at the same pace as the failures they have been collecting in the law courts since this story began. As a defendant, and a prisoner, I took the time and the attention to study the court papers produced during various bureaucratic stages as the charges of terrorism were gradually losing pieces. Perhaps this is the reason why the arrows fired by prosecutor general Maddalena from the pages of La Repubblica didn’t surprise me much. Apart from his guilty conscience of a man who feels obliged to publicly confirm something that had not been denied¹, the prosecutor general’s words demonstrate the intention to bring a discourse to the court, which is well different from a merely technical one.
With the clearing of the terrorism charges against Chiara, Claudio, Niccolò and Mattia in the first grade trial, prosecutors lost everything they could lose on a judicial level, and this defeat on a technical level led them to gradually move the battlefield to an increasingly ideological level, throwing away any mask of decency ², and clearly showing the intention to obtain a judicial sentence of political nature. If it wasn’t like that, probably their appeal to the Cassation (which they also lost) wouldn’t have contained phrases such as the following:      ‘The will that animated the defendants was due to the hatred and rancour the assailants nourished against the workers [of the TAV site], the police and carabinieri, all of them at that time representing the power that wants to impose strongly opposed works’ (among other things, they acknowledge that TAV is an imposed works met with strong opposition…)     ‘The perpetrators of these actions do not try to build a dialogue with the State, but take an antagonist stance in the only way they know, that of dialogue through violence’ (bold and underlined in the original document).    ‘The investigated people’s action is to be situated within extreme antagonism, an action of war, a punitive action against our State in order to condemn its choices of economic nature’     ‘The action was criminal and irresponsible’ (but then they highlight how meticulously it was prepared…)    All statements that one would expect to hear in a TV programme presented by Debbio [a Forza Italia member, journalist and television presenter] or some of the other demagogues so popular today among journalists; certainly not to be found in an appeal addressed to a technical and supposedly neutral institution.
The repressive apparatus has been dealing with the ‘NO TAV affair’ in terms that make explicit reference to the 1970s [the years of armed struggle in Italy], and this regardless of the fact that the charge of terrorism is technically backed by the legislation against jihadist international terrorism. It is a psychological operation implying: ‘at that time too it all started with small actions of sabotage…’ Their attempt, barely concealed, is to take the terms of the discourse to a period that has still a certain ability to evoke images of fear and blood in people’s minds. The schemes repression proposes to interpret reality, besides being heavily distorted, are also quite old fashioned, and maybe this is also due to the fact that many protagonists and marginal characters of this story (Maddalena, Caselli, De Stefano, etc.) were on the frontline of repression in those years, and maybe this ‘remembering’ took them back to the fine times of their youth with a great deal of nostalgia… The cultural and juridical inconsistency of the charge of terrorism is obvious, as those who want to press it at all costs and in spite of everything also know; and after all it doesn’t cost them much, just the price of the paper to write an appeal… The battle is now a totally political one, even if in the court they will try to hide it behind some caveats, and the big movement of solidarity that formed around this story shouldn’t make the mistake of overlooking the residual dangerousness of certain charges or to be dragged towards an ideological level by some tragic-comical characters who have proved bad winners and even worse losers.
The battle isn’t over yet; strength and the will to discuss and be there in the most important moments are still needed. And this not only because of the sacrosanct principle of not leaving whoever is hit by repression alone (a principle without which the struggle is lost from the start), but also and mainly to demonstrate the irreducible and contagious joy of living and experimenting against the sad plans that bureaucrats make on lives and territories, while treating the latter like objects to be defined, selected and moulded so as to secure the good functioning of society and the economy, or what some state officer thinks society and the economy are.
Amor y Rabia
¹ Prosecutors submitted a request for an appeal trial [against Chiara, Alberto, Mattia and Niccolò] in April, that is to say before the investigating judge pronounced the sentence concerning Graziano, Lucio and me, but most importantly before the Cassation dismissed the charge of terrorism for the second time [ i.e. in Graziano’s, Lucio’s and Francesco’s case]. The media passed [the prosecutors’] appeal as a counter-response to the second dismissal; it is however very likely that during the appeal trial prosecutors will try to minimize the judicial events linked to the second time they made arrests for terrorism [i.e. when they arrested Graziano, Lucio and Francesco], given that these events are not precisely edifying for prosecutors…
² The investigation papers are full of funny episodes and foolish performances, many of which relate to the proceedings and would amuse only magistrates, but at least one of them deserves to be mentioned: in the new ‘packet of evidence’ for terrorism thanks to which Lucio, Graziano and I were arrested exactly a year after Mattia, Chiara, Claudio and Niccolò, there was the famous study conducted by the Bocconi University on the economic importance of the TAV. In the intents of Padanaudo [Padalino and Rinaudo are the names of the prosecutors in the case] this study would demonstrate the necessity of the TAV and therefore the terrorist nature of anyone who strikes it, a ‘strong’ point for the prosecutors. The study mentioned in the first grade trial in the Assizes then showed off in both the arrest warrant of 9/12/14 and the (lost) appeal that followed, quietly disappeared from the papers prosecutors produced afterwards.  Perhaps the reason for this bizarre disappearance can be explained by the fact that the study was signed by engineer Ercole Incalza, whose arrest [for bribery and corruption] in March this year caused good Lupi to lose his seat as well…

Leave a Reply

Required fields are marked *.