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Italian Police Arrest 20 Anti-Globalists

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Italian Police Arrest 20 Anti-Globalists

Nov. 15

— By Emilio Gioventu

NAPLES, Italy (Reuters) - Italian police arrested 20 anti-globalization activists early on Friday for alleged subversive activity, authorities said, sparking protests across the country.

The activists were accused of belonging to a subversive network that had conspired to undermine law and order by organizing protests like a march against the Group of Eight summit in Genoa in July of last year.

At that event, violent clashes between protesters and police left one demonstrator dead and hundreds injured.

Police pounced on the suspects in night-time raids across southern Italy. Among those detained was Naples activist Francesco Caruso, an organizer of a peace march in Florence last week which drew more than half a million demonstrators.

Investigating magistrates in Cosenza, Calabria, ordered the arrests, the prosecutor's office there said.

"I don't see any doubt...that we are looking at more than a pure and simple ideological movement, but at one with the capacity to threaten...state security and public order," the investigators' report said, according to ANSA news agency.

Caruso's lawyer denied the accusations.

The activists are leaders of the "no global" movement in southern Italy, which helped stage demonstrations across the country leading up to the Genoa summit. Some of those turned violent, as did a march in Naples in the spring of 2001.

In Naples, about 120 people were injured and 16 arrested during a meeting of business leaders. Police were later accused of excessive violence against detainees and earlier this year, eight policemen were arrested for alleged abuse.

MORE PROTESTS PLANNED

Friday's arrests of those who organized the peaceful march in Florence set off protests from Bologna to Rome and Naples.

Dozens of activists scuffled with guards as they barged into the Bologna prosecutor's office to object to the arrests, while others gathered outside government buildings in Rome and Naples.

Larger protests were planned for Rome, Palermo, Naples and other cities on Saturday.

Human rights groups, local religious leaders and center-left politicians denounced what they called the "repressive" and "fascist" police action. "They are trying to criminalize the movement," said Luca Casarini, one of the leaders of Italy's anti-globalization movement. "We're not the ones who subvert the state of law, they do with their violence."

"The accusations are absurd," said Naples priest Don Vitaliano Della Sala, a sympathizer of the movement. "I know Francesco...If he is a subversive then so am I."

Investigators told ANSA they also suspected the activists of belonging to a more violent fringe group known as the Black Bloc, which was thought to be responsible for wreaking havoc at the Genoa summit.

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