Historic criminal conviction for a violent assault to a Roma camp in Italy
17 July 2015
Turin, Budapest 17 July 2015: Our NGOs welcome the recent court decision in the “La Continassa” case. While racist motives are often ignored in cases of violence against Roma, in this case an Italian court handled the matter properly. This conviction by the Turin Criminal Court, finding people guilty of a violent assault on a Roma camp, is very important. Despite such assaults being common in Italy, we do not have knowledge of prior convictions of this kind.
On 14 July, the court convicted six people of hate crimes against Roma. The court also ruled that the victims who intervened in the procedure will each get €15,000 in compensation. “Despite the extreme delays and reluctance shown by the authorities in initiating investigations, after four years the court vindicated the victims of this brutal, racially motivated attack”, says Vesna Vuletic from Idea Rom Onlus.
On 12 December 2011, in the outskirts of Turin (Torino), a mob violently attacked an informal Romani settlement on an abandoned farm called "la Continassa". The mob formed to punish the local Roma community for the alleged rape of a non-Roma girl. The mob set fire to the place. According to all witnesses, the racist motivation behind these serious crimes was obvious.
“Prosecutions for racially-motivated attacks are rare in Italy due to a narrowly-drafted hate crime law. Now we hope Italian authorities will take steps forward to reinforce their response to these issues. Meanwhile civil society actors must support victims and vulnerable communities, while also acting as partners for the authorities in combatting hate crime”, argues Lorenzo Trucco, ASGI’s President.
ASGI, Idea Rom Onlus and the ERRC joined the procedure as “civil parties” and were awarded €3,000 Euro in compensation. The money will go to further our activities to advance Roma rights.
“The European Roma Rights Centre joined the legal procedures to ensure better protection of Romani victims of hate crimes. We want to improve state responses to violence and hate speech against Roma, and this case will go a long way to making that happen”, says ERRC Legal Director Adam Weiss.
The ERRC, ASGI, and Idea Rom Onlus welcome the verdict and hope that this case will serve as an example to authorities in investigating racially motivated violence against Roma as well as safeguarding victims’ access to justice.
Further information and interview opportunities:
Associazione Studi Giuridici Immigrazione
Idea Rom onlus
European Roma Rights Centre