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Paolo Scaroni

Paolo Scaroni 150The Incident

On 24th September 2005, after a football match between Hellas Verona and Rondinelle (Brescia), a Rondinelle supporter, Paolo Scaroni, was seriously injured in a clash between supporters and police at Verona railway station. Scaroni was hospitalised, in a coma for one month, and eventually declared 100% disabled. He ended up with a paralysed foot and a hoarse voice as a result of the trauma and was unable to recall anything of the first twenty years of his life. Scaroni decided to tell everything to a policewoman, Margherita T., who began an investigation into her the actions of her fellow police officers and, working single-handed, discovered such things as missing or cut film footage, altered reports and false testimonies.

Paolo Scaroni, a cattle farmer, had come to Verona with another 800 supporters. The supporters group he belongs to is called “Brescia 1911”, made up of fans from the Brescia area whose main activity is to protest against the “screening” of supporters and the power of the “TV magnates” over football. After this particular match, they were escorted to Verona railway station where, all of a sudden, they were baton charged three times with extreme violence by riot police, leaving 32 supporters injured – many with truncheon wounds to their backs. Paolo was one of the most badly hurt, with head injuries. He vomited, passed out and went into a coma; his friends administered first aid but the ambulance took more than half an hour to get there.

F. M., the officer in charge of Verona police station, wrote an official report blaming the clashes on the football supporters. He claims that the Brescia fans “occupied platform 1” and the line in front of the train, demanding the release of two of their comrades. When the police squad approached them, according to the report, they reacted by throwing stones picked up from the railway track, attacking the police with metal bars and belts and kicking and punching them, and the baton-charge was ordered purely to avoid violence against other rail users. Paolo is mentioned on the penultimate page of the report, referred to as a supporter who fell ill on the train. Initially, it was claimed that he had been beaten up by Verona supporters – but there were no Verona supporters; several witnesses confirmed that there was nobody else in the station at the time but the escorted Brescia fans. One of the riot police said that Paolo had been hit by a stone thrown by his fellow supporters.

On 30th October 2005, after being in a coma for a month, Paolo regained consciousness and was questioned by Margherita T., who reconstructed the beating incident as follows: four men attacked Scaroni with truncheons, hitting him repeatedly on the head and calling him a “bastard”. The police version of events – that there were supporters on the track stopping the train from leaving – is not corroborated by railway personnel. The train drivers say that everything was calm and that they were ready to leave just before the pandemonium broke out. Four railway police personnel say it all started when the riot police threw tear gas into a compartment where there were also women and children. The supporters reacted angrily, demanding an explanation, but their group leaders intervened saying that the railway police had nothing to do with it. It was then that the riot police baton-charged all the supporters. The policewoman also discovered that the scenes of Paolo being beaten were missing from the police video footage, and that certain crucial sequences had been cut irremediably. This cut version was the one consigned to the judges.

The trial

The Verona Public Prosecutor requested twice that the case be dismissed, arguing that the police officers who carried out the beating couldn't be identified because of their helmets. After years of deception and lies, the first hearing finally took place on 25th March 2011. Paolo Scaroni had written a letter to the then Minister of the Interior, Roberto Maroni, but got no reply. On 18th January 2013, the eight Bologna riot police officers were acquitted of the charge of causing grievous bodily harm with intent because of insufficient evidence. Police responsibility was ascertained but the perpetrators were not identified. Scaroni has lodged an appeal.

Published: Wednesday, 18 February 2015 18:07

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