Crime and Court news / Foreign relations

European Court of Human Rights rules against Italy in Diaz and Contrada cases

The building of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg is becoming an unpleasant place for the Italian State attorneys. In a few weeks, Italy lost two landmark and embarrassing cases.

First Italy was found responsible of torture for the actions of its riot police within the Diaz school in Genoa during the G8 summit

held there in 2001. The school, after having been occupied by protesters, was taken by the riot police and used as an unofficial detention center in which suspect were subjected to random abuse. Furthermore, Italy did not introduce in its criminal law a specific provision criminalizing torture.

In the Contrada case, Italy was found in violation of the nullum crimen sine lege rule for the jail sentence against a former high-ranking official of the intelligence services. Bruno Contrada was found guilty of “complicity in an organized crime conspiracy”. Such offense was created by the Italian Courts by combining two different provisions in the Italian Criminal Code. The Strasbourg Court did not challenge this legal construction, but ruled that, when Mr Contrada allegedly committed the offense, its existence was not clearly established yet.


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