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by Luke Baker
12:33pm Wed Feb 20 '02
(Modified on 1:07pm Wed Feb 20 '02)

ROME (Reuters) - Italy's interior minister faced calls for his resignation on Saturday after revealing he had ordered police to shoot any protesters who breached security lines at the G8 summit in Genoa last year.

Italy Minister Under Fire Over Open Fire Order
Sat Feb 16,11:38 AM ET
Minister Claudio Scajola told reporters on Friday that following the death of protester Carlo Giuliani at Genoa, shot by a policeman as a police van came under attack, he had given security forces authority to use their weapons.

"After the death that night, I had to give the order to shoot anyone who breached the Red Zone," Scajola said, referring to the most secure area of the city, where the leaders of the G7 most-industrialized nations and Russia were meeting.

Scajola went on to say the "open fire" order was not given so much in response to the threat of a step up in protests by anti-globalization demonstrators, but because of the risk of terrorism and an attack on President Bush (news - web sites).

Still, opposition politicians and leaders of Italy's anti-globalization movement bombarded the minister with calls to tell the whole truth about what happened at the July summit.

"This is a very serious development," said Gavino Angius, a senior senator from the Democrats of the Left, the largest party in the opposition.

"Why did Scajola not tell us the truth before in parliament? What is he afraid of? Perhaps he's afraid of the truth. But that is what we want -- the truth."

After Genoa, Italian authorities launched a series of probes and a parliamentary inquiry into security arrangements for the summit, and how Giuliani, one of 250,000 demonstrators on the city's streets, came to be killed.


Cesare Salvi, the deputy president of the Senate, said Scajola should face further parliamentary questioning.

"It is extremely serious that the interior minister, having kept such an important piece of information from magistrates and parliament, should now speak about it lightly with reporters," he said.

"In other countries any interior minister that behaved in such a way would immediately have to resign."

Only a few days ago, the government rejected calls from the opposition for the establishment of a parliamentary commission -- a step up from a parliamentary inquiry -- to look into Genoa, saying everything that needed to be known was already known.

Vittorio Angoletto, the head of the Genoa Social Forum, the umbrella group which organized Genoa's protests, said Scajola's admission showed the government knew more than it was saying.

"The government has so many -- too many -- things to hide and it's clear that the truth will never be known.

"They are scared about facing up to their responsibility... As we said on July 20th, immediately after the death of Carlo Giuliani, Scajola must resign."

While Scajola was keeping mum about his remarks, made to journalists as he was flying back from a meeting of European Union (news - web sites) interior ministers in Spain, further confusion was created by comments from the head of public safety in Genoa.

"The minister's comments are surprising because as far as I know no one received any orders to fire," said Giovanni Aliquo, the head of the National Association of Police Employees.

"(An order to fire) would have been criminal and the police would have refused to follow it."



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