Italy : Latest from prisons and courts

Silvia, Agnese and Anna were transferred from the AS2 (High Security) unit of Rebibbia to that of L’Aquila over a week ago. In the prison of L’Aquila, the capital of the Abruzzo region, nearly all the prisoners are subjected to the 41bis regime. This regime of harsh imprisonment  involves 23-hour confinement a day, reduction of time in the exercise yard, impossibility to cook in the cell, where light is dimmed by the presence of opaque transparent plastic panels, only an hour visit with family members, which also takes place with glass partitions with no possibility of contact.
Moreover there’s no way you can have more than four books in the cell, letters are always subjected to censorship, it’s impossible to attend trials other than via video-conferencing. In prisons where there is 41bis, the shadow of this regime extends well beyond the units concerned and ends up changing prison conditions for the rest of the prisoners.

Silvia, Agnese and Anna are in single cells, with locked armoured doors, in an area that was once the women’s 41bis unit. Their day is marked by wake-up at 7am with the opening of the spy-hole; at 8am the guards bang on the window bars to test their resistance; the comrades have two hours in the exercise yard in the morning and two in the afternoon.  Every move outside and inside the cell is marked by metal detector control; they are checked 12 times a day on average and a general personal search is inflicted on them every day. They have only an hour of sociality in a small narrow room. Their cells have a television set and a toilet, but they have nowhere to keep clothes, food, books and belongings. They have a small cupboard outside the cell where they can keep a maximum of 7 items of clothing; anything they remove or place inside is checked and what remains is counted. They can have only three books in the cell. The radios have been sealed and the time has been blacked out from the TV screen in the cell. It’s practically impossible to have any idea of the time. The guards watching them belong to the Gom body, hardened women in this special body of prison thugs. The comrades have had nine disciplinary reports in just over a week. One of them had put her foot on the wall of the sociality room; another had gone to the exercise yard with a pen in her hand.
Right away the prison established a block on the incoming and outgoing letters for all three comrades. Now it remains valid only for Silvia; since the day of their transfer, Saturday 6th April, she has the thread of communication with the outside composed of letters, telegrams and books – already under censorship – cut off. A link which is fundamental to break the isolation that prison forces on you, even more so in an AS2 unit where there are four prisoners.
A few days ago, in video-conferencing from L’Aquila prison during a hearing of the trial for a demo in Brenner, Agnese described the conditions the comrades are under, defining the AS2 unit a tomb. 
Video-conferencing is also being extended to different kinds of prisoners. Initially reserved for prisoners under 41bis, where it’s automatic, it was later applied to prisoners accused of terrorism so to all those considered dangerous, regardless of the charges contested in the trials. Videoconferencing is a particularly heavy instrument, as not only does it make legal defence more difficult and limits the possibility to make declarations in court, it also denies the prisoner the possibility to meet, albeit in a court, some friendly faces and break the prison routine.
Coming to more strictly legal matters, we consider it important to highlight the reasons why the comrades arrested following operation Scintilla are still being held in prison. After the charge of subversive association was dropped, Beppe and Antonio remain in jail for the publication of the pamphlet ‘The sky is burning’. This being a list of individuals at various levels responsible for the existence of detention centres for migrants, a list addressed to an anarchist area might be expected to make bad use of it, the mere act of publishing it justifies this charge by the court of review. On top of that, house arrest was refused because the two comrades’ records make the risk of recidivism very likely. On the contrary, Silvia remains in jail because her anthropometric profile, in terms of gait, height and body shape, would be compatible with that of the person filmed by cameras while he/she was placing a can of inflammable liquid outside the premises of a Poste Italiane office. The anthropometric discipline is destined to become an increasingly important instrument for investigators in the near future, and we need to come back to this with reflection and deeper analysis.
We end this update pointing out that censorship on letters has been confirmed for the three comrades; according to the judge this is due to the wide and lasting solidarity developed since the comrades’ arrest and the eviction of Asilo.  
Meantime it’s urgent to break the isolation, which Silvia is particularly subjected to, a way to dent the brutality of prison. 
To write to the comrades in the prison of L’Aquila:
Silvia Ruggeri
Anna Beniamino
Agnese Trentin
Via Amiternina 3
Località Costarelle di Preturo
67100 L’Aquila
Translated by act for freedom now!

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