Italy – October 21, 2020. Defence statement of Anarchist comrade Anna Beniamino in view of the “Scripta Manent” appeal trial

via: roundrobin.infoTranslated by act for freedom now!
Translator’s note: The appeal trial took place on 24th November2020. See: https://actforfree.nostate.net/?p=36038

To the High Court of Appeal in Turin
Defence Statement of Anna Beniamino, second part
The paradox underlying this trial is that it would have something new as its objective, whereas comrades have been investigated, tried, acquitted or convicted for the same things and ideas for years. The attempt to transform the relations of solidarity at the root of anarchist action into “subversive association with the aim of terrorism” is nothing new.
The attempt to get results at all costs through the methodical fabrication of “evidence” and insinuation is nothing new, and I believe it is the prosecution’s job to support them even if they are insane, like the “self-tracing” offered in extremis at the end of the first grade of this trial, or the delirious “rush” to write a threatening message at 6pm on a Sunday after an entire day spent at home working and drawing.
I am convinced that we anarchists are magnificent prey: we don’t believe in the justice of the courts, we insult prosecutors and policemen, we often refuse to defend ourselves against blatant accusatory frame-ups. I shall go a little against my principles and try to explain what I mean.
The idea being put on trial here is solidarity, with prisoners and between prisoners; the solidarity which, as anarchists, we define “solidarity and complicity” (and the first to use the binomial is not Gioacchino Somma, with all due respect to the prosecution and civil parties, but is an expression that has been used for at least 20 years in [anarchist] papers and leaflets, as a quick search on the internet will show) disregarding the fact that a human feeling risks becoming an indictment, a crime.

I accept responsibility for what I have written and published over the years in Pagine in rivolta, KNO3 and Crocenera. I did so from the start, signing articles, specifying the address, presenting and discussing the paper as stated in the defence statement that I submitted in the first instance, putting events in the right proportion and describing that phenomenon which feeds itself on the simple fact of maintaining the same friendships, ideas, frequentations over the years.
In exposing his grounds of appeal, the Public Prosecutor in a Freudian slip calls me and other anarchists “historical defendants of the FAI” (page 113), although on page 21 of the same document, in the nebula of suggestions offered, he tries to argue that the object of this trial is not the same people, the same facts.
As an anarchist on the other hand I find myself facing a political-fiction interpretation of 25 years of anarchist events, fictional because what emerges from the trial papers is a script that I do not recognize.
It would suffice to internalize that anarchists are anti-authoritarian and refuse political delegation to understand how chilling it is for me to be sentenced as a member of a “kind of central steering committee that performs the function of strategic direction with respect to single cells” (page 116 of the sentence and page 18 of the prosecution’s reasons for appeal) or of having a “prominent role” (!?), in “hearings” (?!?), in “making loyal to the cause”, or “radicalizing”.
Would it suffice to say that I am an anarchist? That I am not a Marxist -Leninist, am not a radical Islamist or even a mafiosa?
I have difficulty in defending myself from these allegations given their vague nature, the only traces I can find to justify them in detail are on page 272 of the sentence and pages 120-121 of the reasons for the appeal, and it is on this basis that I shall try to express myself.
Page 272 of the sentence, note 479, refers to “hearings” based on a telephone interception between me and Pier Leone Porcu, not investigated in these proceedings, who advised me to choose the editors carefully. Piero was advising me about this because he had been involved in an old edition of CNA and other publications concerning prison in the past.
The PM talks about “auditions” “carried out by Beniamino to recruit people capable and deserving of participating in the new edition of CNA project” then “Omar Nioi” “he radicalised in 2014 thanks to Anna Beniamino, he was previously a social anarchist”. However, nowhere is it explained how and where these radicalising auditions would have taken place, how they were carried out, given that from the wiretaps and scanned letters you understand quite the opposite (the only time I ask from prison to defer bringing out Crocenera as I am preparing some articles, my request is ignored, and on the absurd quarrel concerning the “Asilo” benefit I write to Rizzo directly explaining my reasons and besides there are various letters in the court papers that demonstrate it). That is, you can see absolute autonomy of judgement, at least I hope so; it can be deduced that each individual acts according to their own criteria and takes responsibility for what they say and do.
I would like the accusers to do the same, to take moral responsibility for the words they use carelessly and explain what they mean by “auditions” and “radicalization”.
Then every now and again the accusation goes as far as to use terminology of trials against so-called organized crime: the quicksands of “awareness”, “collusion”, “external participation”, “fundraising”, with which they want to discredit the ethical bases of solidarity between anarchists and solidarity between individuals in general. I absolutely do not want to defend myself from the accusation of solidarity with and between prisoners, it is fundamental for me, it is what makes me wake up serenely every morning, but I shall try to put some order into the castle of errors and inferences in the friable block of allegations.
When I find myself explaining every single meeting by the sea or at a lake, walks in the city, my presence at a gig some evening, a phrase extrapolated from an article, causal or inexistent links, but all with the typical superstructure of the police suspect, on the one hand I enter the mechanism of having to defend myself from normality or I feel like taking the piss out of it. But as the accusation and the 17 years’ prison sentence concerning myself, not to mention the others, is built on this house of cards, I shall try to be as precise as possible.
– The evidence
During the first degree trial I underestimated the “evidence”. It seemed to me that, besides being obvious, its inconsistency was already demonstrated in the court papers.
In fact, in the papers there is a technical consultancy from the RIS from Parma, produced at the time of the events which declares unequivocally that the labels on the explosive packages of 2006 signed by FAI-RAT had been written through “letter profiles obtained by tracing, gone over with a ballpoint pen” from which it is deduced: “from this result derives the impossibility of proceeding with attributable comparisons between the handwritten material mentioned above and eventual writings to be linked to the suspects with certainty”.
Reports commissioned to expert graphologists by the prosecution after having reviewed the negative ones of the RIS of Parma, are requests for comparison ad personam, not neutral reports, the request in these terms is in the court papers. Moreover these are paid consultations by private professionals. Once in court the presence of handwriting obtained by retracing (detected by the microscopes of the Parma RIS) the graphologists candidly admitted that they hadn’t picked up the traces and that they had carried out, on photocopies, that attribution of “average probability” thinking it was spontaneous handwriting. In a corner, the prosecutor made recourse to the acrobatics of the “auto-trace”, or rather of “double self-retracing” given that the two of us no less would each have re-traced our own handwriting in order to disguise it? We’d really deserve a firing squad for our multiform insanity.
So, is average probability a double one? Then what is this double or single probability based on? Is graphology a statistical science? What is the credibility of obviously conflicting and vague deductions? A suggestion.
Another thing I still can’t explain is how it is possible to indicate the interpretation of prog.1584 as “formidable evidence”, justifying a sentence.
Surely it is my naivety to think that an interception in 2007 (among other things also examined by the police themselves, for the same crime, in proceedings with the same defendants) which had already been considered for what it was, nothing, in 2009, could magically become the cornerstone of a concoction of slapdash interpretative nonsense in 2020.
The discrepancy in what was intercepted was admitted without explanation: “a letter is missing”, “an e is missing” and a threatening text where nothing missing is detected, an insertion into an empty space, but a superposition of two letters which in any case would not justify the meaning of the phrase.
Another thing concerning interception 1584: as the only objection to the explanations provided on the whole audio of the day, verbally and in writing in the first part of the defence memorandum submitted on 9th September 2020, it was said, I don’t remember by which of the two prosecutors, that actually I didn’t mention which tattoo drawing I was doing. That is not true, I explained that I was doing various drawings for the week, certainly I can no longer show them because I gave the sketches back to the customer, as already explained, especially small personalized things. In other words I only have in the studio the originals or copies of the more elaborate drawings or those in styles that I was interested in developing, i.e. to be clear, I keep the original tables of a Japanese carp with waves in the background, a Polynesian forearm or a geometric dot-work, not those of two intertwined initials or of a little butterfly or a Vasco Rossi quote. I still have some catalogues of lettering examples in the studio, but these are reference tables of various calligraphic styles not the precise catalogue of all the writings done in the last 15 years. Especially in the beginning small jobs were the rule in the studio, in recent years requests have become more elaborate and I happened to photograph and publish my work on the Tattoo Studio website or on Facebook, not in 2007.
For this reason, it is impossible for me or any other tattooist to answer with precision, just as it would be impossible for a shopkeeper  to say what dress he was selling in 2007, or a barista what coffee he was serving.
Writings, initials, names of children, wives and fiancées, phrases of songs, ornate gothic characters or italics: that E could be missing from a title block, a collection of gothic initials, the verse of a song or a Latin quote.
If they’d asked me in 2007 I’d very likely have been able to remember the customer, at present I have a problem even remembering the jobs I was doing in September 2016 when they arrested me. That is to say I remember planning to finish an arm, a biomechanical sleeve for a regular customer but I cannot remember the myriad of little stars, anchors, letters or diamonds that are the daily bread of a tattooist.
– On the relations with friends and comrades, in my memorandum and in the police ocp [ocp osservazione, controllo e pedinamento , “observation, control shadowing”, carried out by judicial police]
Discussions become “auditions”, walks “inspections”, personal relations “recruitment of believers”, punk concerts in occupied places “reserved meetings” and there is no lack of mere suspicions alluding to encounters that never took place not because we, the defendants, say so, but because the police themselves certify that we were in an altogether different place. Therefore in the cauldron of the appeal narrative we find ourselves confronting events that had already been shown to be inexistent in the first grade, or at least so it was hoped.
–Some examples are symptomatic.
On 28th March 2015 the prosecutor insists that I was leaving Rome with Bisesti and Mercogliano for Pescara for a “private meeting”, while the very ocp of the Digos certify that on 28th March 2015 I had an appointment at the tattoo studio in Turin, arrived at Porta Nuova station on time and went to the studio to tattoo the client who was waiting for me.
On 14th May, when another ocp of the Digos certifies that I was with Bisesti in Liguria, even if it is clarified by the ocp (see ocp attached to Beniamino environmental interceptions, with a contextual request for cctv signed Lionetti and dated 30th May 2016, V.F. 177- page 1/124) and by the first instance sentence, the prosecution continues to put it into doubt during the appeal, fomenting an atmosphere of suspicion.
To be precise, starting from 2017, thanks to being able to access the court papers on computer media in the prison of Rebibbia, something impossible in other prisons, I was able to read nearly all the acts of this trial, where among other things my movements are documented with almost daily frequency in 2015 and daily in 2016. After I overcame the Orwellian “big brother” unease, at least I gained indications as to where I was, whether in Turin, Rome, Bordighera, etc. on the dates cited.
I’d have had great difficulty in demonstrating it but this absurdly pervasive control helped me to reconstruct where I was given that, as well as in telephone and environmental interceptions and ocp photographs, this would also be reported in emails, which little attention has been paid to in spite of the fact that they concern the same encounters, frequentations and the same newspaper, the one demonized in this trial as clandestine and organ of the FAI.
– On historical-political errors
I have to mention other basic errors, the result of a reduction of historical and political sources functional to the usual vice of applying the so-called method of inclusion/exclusion to anything, bordering on historical revisionism and reducing the complexity of the facts to notions and demonizing the terms themselves, as well as the people.
Insurrectionalism was not invented by Alfredo Maria Bonanno nor was it discovered in the 1990s thanks to the Marini trial/operation Pontelungo.
The anarchist movement is insurrectional in its very historical roots, it is sufficient to think of the insurrectional uprisings of 1874 (Bakunin in Romagna…the “devil in Pontelungo”, caricatured in Bacchelli’s novel) and 1877 (Malatesta and Cafiero with the Banda del Matese in Benevento). Bakunin, Malatesta, Cafiero along with other historical figures, are discussed, quoted and published still today in anarchist papers, from Umanità Nova to Edizioni Anarchismo passing through the various blogs and publications and claims.
Nihilism was not invented by the CCF in 2010, but is a term, as well as a philosophical vision, which emerges in Russian culture in the second half of the 19th century. If I am not mistaken its birth is ascribed to a character in the novel Fathers and Sons by Ivan Sergeevič Turgenev, which gives literary body to the Bakunian negation, a negation which historian Isaiah Berlin defined “extraordinary destructive dialectic”, and re-emerges in the writings of the individualists Bruno Filippi and Renzo Novatore at the beginning of the 1900s up to the radical critique of the present society.
Federalism is a concept familiar to the whole of anarchism (think of Pierre Joseph Proudhon and his “federative principle”) in contraposition to State and political centralization and not only to anarchism obviously as it derives from the political debate of the Risorgimento.
Informality is nothing new either, but is the anarchist counterpart to the formal relations typical of political parties which all anarchists reject, refusing delegation and the formalization of roles.
Affinity groups are among the forms of natural aggregation of the anarchist movement, starting from the much-quoted Spanish experiences of the 1930s (for historical reference, Lorenzo Micheli, Los olvidados, La fiaccola editions) up to their modern reproposition, for example in Murray Bookchin.
Mutual aid is not a “code of behaviour ” of the “FAI consortium”, as stated by the prosecutor during a hearing, but a concept developed starting from the well-known text of the nineteenth century, Mutual Aid, by Pëtr Alekseevič Kropotkin, where the Russian philosopher, anarchist, analyses it as a natural tendency towards cooperation in the animal world in contraposition to the Darwinian competition between species, i.e. what one would like to see as a “code of behaviour” of the relations of solidarity in the human consortium.
Kropotkin, not just any philosopher but one who still today (I am reasoning with police reductionism now), along with Malatesta, is considered one of the theoretical points of reference (“Il Mutuo appoggio” [Mutual Aid] has recently been republished by Edizioni Eleuthera) of that “social” current which refers to anarchist communism.
– Still from an historical point of view and of interpretation
I am well aware of the fact that words have different values according to who pronounces them, whether historians, people of the theatre or accused but under the illusion that they can be understood objectively, I shall try to explain myself.
I am accused of and convicted in the first instance of terrorism, I certainly don’t like it but try not to get scared. I am not just saying this now, but happened to write it in an article, “Terrors”, in CNA issue 0, in not-suspect times. The thesis was quite simple, as anarchists we shouldn’t be afraid if they accuse us of “terrorism”, article 270bis rains down with alarming ease in the sentencing of the movement. The accusation of being terrorists is “historic” for anarchists, whether we like it or not, the important thing is to keep strong the defence of one’s ideas and practices, which are anything but “indiscriminate” or intended to bring about terror among the population. I think that Lello Valitutti explained it better than me and with some experience, I’d say, since his is the historical memory of the failed attempt to attribute Piazza Fontana to anarchists.
Remaining in the historical context, the reference to Mazzini or to other nineteenth century revolutionaries (later risen to the role of heroes of the Risorgimento) as “terrorists”, I don’t only connect to the communicative verve of Alfredo Cospito in recent hearings but to a concept shared by historians and actors, namely that the term, in times prior to the current media bombardment on Islamic terrorism, had different political and evocative contours. I could quote the use made by historian Franco Venturi in Il Populismo Russo [Russian Populism], Einaudi editions, when he writes about political and social movements prior to the October Revolution or the “terrorist cells” of the Jewish Socialist Party (the Bund), where these cells were a sort of protection force, an action group to protect the Jewish population from the Tsarist pogroms, or to respond to the Tsarist terror.
As the prosecutors cite the TV program Striscia la Notizia to corroborate their theses on demonstrative and non-demonstrative attacks, I am taking the liberty of quoting a man of the theatre, Ascanio Celestini, who in Pro Patria, Einaudi editions (page119 onwards), in the afterword to a monologue on the Roman Republic of 1849 and today’s prisons, recalls Carlo Pisacane, Felice Orsini, Giuseppe Mazzini, Giuseppe Garibaldi, Goffredo Mameli, Errico Malatesta and Carlo Cafiero being considered “terrorists” when they were alive, listing them as protagonists of historical insurrectional events.
The Turkish State considers terrorists the lawyers who died during hunger strike in prison, convicted of terrorism, and for whom a minute’s silence was observed in this courtroom on 16th September.
All anarchism is anti-authoritarian and anarchism is “the destruction of every political order based on authority” and “anarchy should be considered a method”: two quotes from L’anarchia (1891) by Errico Malatesta, Malatesta who founded Umanità Nova (1920), which still comes out today (in fact the prosecutor wanted to hear its editor as a witness for the prosecution in the first instance trial) and considered, in the outline of the order for precautionary custody,  an “area magazine” for the social, “authoritarians” and “organizers” of the Italian FAI, the good one… the one which claims to be the “mouthpiece of the social anarchist movement” as stated in recent issues of the weekly Umanità Nova, even if according to the investigators “social anarchists” are only a fringe of Bonannian insurrectionalism. I am using these examples to give an idea of how reductive and contradictory the schemes produced for trial purposes are, which attempt to present a family tree of anarchist currents in a form of linearity worthy of the Linnaean classification.
On the division into currents
I do not want, nor am I able, to explain how the current anarchist movement is subdivided, besides not having the presumption to do so, I do not think it is possible to extrapolate currents with direct consequentiality and linearity, specific and specialised fields of interest and interventions in a movement which has the peculiar characteristic of shunning crystallization into closed political structures, but goes forward through continuous discussions and overcoming, even if it maintains the great underlying themes.
There is no single thesis on the genesis of anarchist thought or the movement: there are those who would have it born as a political doctrine from the Marx-Bakunin quarrel in the context of the First International, i.e. from the dispute between authoritarian and antiauthoritarian internationalists; there are those who consider it a content that is always present in the forms of social organization humanity has given itself: a karst river of revolt and anti-authoritarianism that surfaces at times and remains underground at others and then there are those who put it in relation to some pre and post enlightenment philosophers (Étienne de la Boétie with his Discourse on Voluntary Servitude, William Godwin, etc.). In the same way fields of interest and intervention change and take on particular characteristics according to context, they are children of their time.
For example anarcho-syndicalism had its moment of greatest impact during last century, when workers’ struggles were central, not now when labour exploitation is no longer centralized in factories and where other themes take hold and intertwine, from technological pervasiveness to the destruction of the ecosystem, which become common and transversal themes, not peculiar to a “current”, to go back to the aforementioned schematic divisions and related false attributions of interest.
To this lack of foundations in the schematic police subdivision, are added continuous changes of direction in the accusatory narrative to adapt itself to the first instance sentence.
The structure is so uncertain that the PM himself changes its characteristics from the first instance trial to the appeal and even within the appeal trial itself: if in the scheme present in the first pages of the OCC, two currents, anti-organizers and organizers (among other things the latter endowed – according to the prosecutor – with characteristics alien to libertarian thought itself, think of the Italian Anarchist Federation, defined by the prosecutor – again in the scheme on page 18 of the OCC – as an expression of the “organizational model”, consisting of “formal stable hierarchical authoritarian organizations”) and from the first of these anti-organizers derived “Bonannian insurrectionalist anarchism” and in turn from a secondary budding the four famous filiations (classical, social, ecologist insurrectionalists and informal FAI).
In the exposition made during the appeal trial, at the hearing on 22nd July 2020, the PM produced a different scheme on the board where “Bonannian anarchism” is placed in a “median” position between the aforementioned currents, evidently to correct the aim regarding the first grade sentence which in turn led to a further reconstruction of the currents, if possible even more distorted, indicating a sort of occult double level in an open method.
On the signatures
On 22nd July the PM produced other arguments on the board, as axiomatic as they are false,  including the exclusivity of the informal FAI in the practice of using a signature, even if repeated over time, a fact that can be contradicted by simply leafing through any counter-information publication or blog among those in the court papers. The use of written claims, different or repeated acronyms, serious or goliardic appellations is historically in common use in anarchist actions and as such should be acknowledged, not alluding to specificities that only exist in the heads of the inquisitors.
In fact, the framing of a series of overlapping acronyms such as FAI/ELF and FAI/ALF, escapes the inquisitorial sieve, without explaining them in any way even if they are present in the examined blogs and court papers.
On my articles on CNA and the criteria of publication
By dint of continuing to handle writings, the inquisitors try at all costs to give them hidden meanings, for further suggestions.
In the final hearings of the appeal trial reference was also made to a “change of register” on the basis of Lo Turco’s sentence in a shortened rite trial, which was in fact a year after the articles that would have demonstrated this “change of register” (2017 and not 2016)! In this sense two of my articles published in CNA issue 3 would be indicative, articles that date back to autumn 2016, soon after my arrest and therefore checked since the first day of sending, given that my mail was under censorship from the moment of arrest in September 2016 to November 2017.
The article Banalità di base, gli incontri servono per incontrarsi [Basic banalities, meetings serve for meeting one another] signed Anna, Latina, November 2016, concerned movement meetings and is not dissimilar to what I have always written and maintained (for example see the “with head held high” meetings), i.e. the basic banality that meetings are for comrades to meet one another and talk together.
The article Scripta Manent is a short write-up, after having read the order of custodial measure of this trial and is not dissimilar to previous analyses.
That is to say it doesn’t communicate anything more than the usual assessment of the repressive operations that strike the solidarity given to anarchists in prison and the publications involved in it. I am not the only one to see the cyclical reappearance of these [operations] with the same charges, given that in the appeal trial the prosecutor placed me among the “historical defendants of FAI”, admitting that they had been investigating me for 20 years. Why? Because I have published claims or contributions, letters from prison on Crocenera’s blog and in preceding papers without taking copies of them to the police station.
This is because I have never participated in publications that had one editor responsible or a radio that ran the risk of being taken off the waves and given that I consider it important to publish, to spread the news of that part of the movement that could hardly find space elsewhere. This is the way I feel and I’d never allow myself to do differently, to censor or not relate to what is happening.
It is the same feeling that moved me to sign a collective text by a number of people on trial twenty-two years ago, Prospettive operative comuni contro l’atto repressivo ai danni di decine di anarchici/che [Common operative perspectives against the repressive act striking dozens of anarchists], which is nothing other than the publication of a debate concerning the procedural management of the so-called Marini trial. Just as I continue to do today, in that trial where I was investigated certainly in a marginal position (if I recall correctly the element that unleashed article 270bis for me was participation in a gathering following the trial of some anarchists for robbery in Trento in 1994), I maintained that discriminating factors between comrades should not be made, even if I would perhaps have belonged to the good ones at the time, now the bad ones, but that changes little, these are just repressive games.
Today as then, be it for the robbers of 1994, for those investigated by Marini in 1996, for Alfredo and Nicola in 2012 or for what is to come, I continue to maintain that “solidarity and complicity” are horizons always to be defended, that positions, even if inconvenient, in the anarchist galaxy which is a revolutionary movement not a reformist one, whose ethical code cannot be superimposed by the penal code, should not be censored or concealed.
Still regarding solidarity with prisoners, it is not true that I kept some anarchists away from the solidarity presence at the trial of Nicola Gai and Alfredo Cospito on 30th October 201 in Genoa. I know very well that this is the umpteenth suggestion cultivated to create roles and areas but it is in fact false and meaningless in respect to the police reconstruction itself. I don’t know how reliable the transcription of the interception reported on page 11 of the prosecutor’s reasons for appeal document is, as it is not me who is speaking, but I know for certain that I didn’t make leave or quarrel with any of the comrades who were there on the occasion of the Adinolfi trial, both during the gathering outside the court and in the subsequent meeting in a university hall in via Balbi. I know that my statements only bear relative weight, but this is also demonstrated by dozens of photos and ocp (reported in F. 179 court papers first grade trial) of the Digos from various regions in Italy, which document the presence of a consistent group of comrades (about 150, according to local newspapers) crowded together outside, as we could only enter the courtroom in a restricted number (around 20 people if I recall well), without any of those present quarrelling, confronting each other or any such thing. Moreover it seems to have been ascertained that I engaged in a series of meetings, those defined “heads held high cycle” in Scripta Manent, in squats and anarchist circles all over Italy, therefore it would be ridiculous and meaningless, besides being contrary to my principles, to keep comrades away from any gathering called by me along with others.
In conclusion to all this, I would like it to be clear that I am aware that I have put banalities on paper, basic concepts for the eyes of the movement and anyone who sees reality for what it is.
Then, if they want to stick to a script where I corrected “privilege” with “previlege”, camouflaged my handwriting by going over it exactly, deceived young and old comrades with a diabolical ghost organization in a pyramid structure… you could well believe, at the expense of all decency, that anarchists carry out massacres, but I remain convinced that there was the intention to strike the solidarity given to anarchist prisoners by any means necessary. Nothing else.

—————-

Anna Beniamino
C. C. “Gazzi” femminile
via Consolare Valeria 2
98124 Messina  – Italy

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