Politicians warn Italy to listen to protesters ahead of demo

22nd October 2011, Comments 0 comments

The head of Italy's Senate called on the government to listen to the country's disaffected youth, as anarchists and other hardcore militants threatened to join a rally planned for Sunday.

"The hopes and demands of the non-violent should be listened to and deserve the maximum attention," Senate President Renato Schifani told journalists.

Schifani, a member of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's centre-right party, called for "collaboration and institutional solidarity" to resolve a "dangerous situation which could result in unacceptable levels of violence."

Groups who clashed with police at an "Indignants" protest in Rome last Saturday, in which 135 people most of them officers were injured, have threatened to join another protest on Sunday.

This one is near the northern city of Turin, the latest rally against a planned high-speed train line.

Officials have blocked off the surrounding area and 1,600 police officers will be monitoring the demonstration, which organisers insisted would be peaceful.

Police on Saturday evening arrested a 23-year-old male who was heading to Turin to join Sunday's demonstration, according to Italian media reports.

The youth, known only by the initials I.V, has been charged with attempted murder after he was identified in photographs taken during the Rome riots as he pelted officers with rocks before setting a police van ablaze.

Politicians spent most of this week blaming each other for the previous weekend's riots.

The opposition attacked the government for poor police management while Berlusconi's allies denounced the violent extremists of the left.

The head of the Puglia region, left-winger Nichi Vendola, said the militants would be able to "recruit others thanks to the growing desperation of the younger generation and an ineffective state."

"The plight of temporary workers, the lives precarious workers lead, that is the principal problem" behind the violence, he told La Repubblica newspaper.

The group of violent protesters -- which numbered between 500 and 2,000 at Rome's riot according to official reports -- "is not yet an armed (political) party, but it risks becoming one," he warned.

Sunday's protest at Susa, near Turin, is organised by the No Tav (No to high-speed trains) movement. But their demonstrations have been infiltrated by violent activists in the past.

France and Italy signed a deal in 2001 on building a line through the area, a strategic link in the European network that would cut travel time between Milan and Paris from seven to four hours.

The cost has been estimated at 15 billion euros (21 billion dollars). But residents of the Susa Valley have fiercely opposed the plan, saying the construction of tunnels would damage the environment.

Clashes between protesters and police in July at the work site at Chiomonte left at least 188 officers and about a dozen demonstrators hurt.

© 2011 AFP

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