27 mars 2011

European Court of Human Rights justifies shooting at demonstrators during the G8 summit, Giuliani v Italy, 23458/02

The Grand Chamber annuls the Chamber judgment finding a violation of the right to life in case Giuliani. During the anti-globalist protests against the G8 summit in Genoa on 20/07/2001, 23-years old Carlo Giuliani picked an empty fire extinguisher off and possibly indented to throw it towards the military police jeep. Other demonstrators were throwing little stones. Policeman (carabiniere) Mario Placanica shot into the face of Carlo, and when the body of the latter fell, the police jeep twice drove over him.

According to the 10 of 17 Grand Chamber judges, the carabiniere acted in self-defence (§ 189). Possibly such a statement might have a sense but the very carabiniere recognized that he had not seen at whom he fired. This simple but ignored fact denies the capacity of the policeman to appreciate the individual danger caused by Carlo Giuliani.

The family of Carlo argued that the State had to equip carabiniere with non-lethal weapon, and not with semi-automatic combat pistols. The Grand Chamber replied that the use of combat weapon was justified because it was an attack of demonstrators, and not a planned operation for dispersion (§ 216).

The Chamber considered that the fact that the family had only 3 hours to nominate an expert for performing the autopsy violated the right to life. Right after a superficial autopsy an authorisation was given to cremate the body – even before the content of the expert medical report was known. As a result, it became impossible to determine whether the shot had been direct. The Grand Chamber annulled the Chamber judgment in arguing that even if the shot was direct the use of semi-automatic combat weapon was justified.

The Italian judge supported shooting, while judges Boštjan Zupančič and Françoise Tulkens related to critical legal approaches led the dissenting minority.

Ciao Carlo.

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