On 17th September 1996, 300 members of the ROS (special squads of the Carabinieri) raided 60 addresses all over Italy. This operation followed earlier raids against anarchists in November 1995, and was based on breathtakingly dodgy evidence from a young informer. Manipulated by senior Prosecutor Antonio Marini (on record as saying "I want to arrest a gang of terrorists before I retire"), the informer has been used to establish the existence of a mythical armed gang called the 'O.R.A.I', or "Revolutionary Anarchist Insurrectional Organisation".(!) By arguing that the 'terrorists' are sheltered by the movement's legal milieu (such as the squatted 'social centres'), the state seeks to criminalise the entire Italian anarchist movement.
The charges arising from the Sept. 17th raid range from "subversive association" through to robbery, manufacture of weapons, murder, kidnappings, bomb attacks and sabotage - basically, pinning most of the unsolved crimes of recent years on anarchists. At the pre-trial hearings in May 1997, Marini's megalomania reached new heights as he sought to add new charges, relating to the mere presence of the anarchists on the Internet and use of their media (particularly the newspaper 'Canenero' or 'Black dog') to publicise the trial. Arrests and deportations in other parts of Europe, notably from France and Spain, have also been a feature of this witch hunt.
The 'O.R.A.I' has been portrayed as a rigidly hierarchical organisation, with long-time anarchist writer and activist Alfredo Bonnano the sinister 'Godfather' sitting at the top of the pyramid. Much of the prosecution's case was built around his supposed involvement. However the trial of the 58 accused (which began 20th October 1997) inexplicably continues - even though Bonnano has since been exonerated.
While the trial is an outrageous politically-motivated travesty in its own right, it also has wider implications. As with Europol, Europe is increasingly united not just economically but in its crackdown on dissent; if "Italian justice gets through with this and the anarchists get sentenced this way of action by the law will have its way not only in Italy but in other countries of the EC as well." (Breakout, December '96.)
For further information and solidarity:
CDA ['Anarchist Defence Committee']
c/o El Paso Occupato
via Passo Buole 47