Fri, Dec 17, 2010 - Page 6 News List

Questions raised about agitators in Rome riots

THE GUARDIAN, ROME

Italian Interior Minister Roberto Maroni on Wednesday agreed to address parliament on the rioting that broke out in Rome on Tuesday as Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi won a controversial vote of confidence to keep his rightwing government alive.

Maroni gave the undertaking after opposition claims that some of the rioters were police.

Anna Finocchiaro, leader in the Senate of Italy’s biggest opposition group, the Democratic Party, said: “There were evidently people who had been infiltrated [among the rioters] and who put at risk the demonstrators and the police. Who commanded them? Who paid them? What were they meant to cause?”

Photographs taken during the disturbances have prompted not only suspicions but bitter memories of the 1970s. Rogue members of the police and intelligence services at that time lent themselves to a so-called “strategy of tension,” aimed at raising the level of violence to the point at which it could be used to justify draconian repression or even a coup d’etat.

On Tuesday, groups of masked and hooded demonstrators rampaged through the capital attacking police, smashing windows, setting fire to vehicles and throwing up barricades. Rome Mayor Gianni Alemanno said first indications were that they had caused damage of about 20 million euros (US$26 million). The disturbances were thought to be the most violent in Rome since 1977.

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