Italy: Letter from imprisoned anarchist comrade Marco Bisesti
ABOUT A SENTENCE AND SOMETHING MORE
I don’t deny a certain monomania. I have often had to deal with repression. I have undergone it, faced it, badly tried to understand something of it. I wrote about it for years in magazines, if anything because it concerned me and other comrades personally. Ironically, I find myself doing the same thing now for some years, but as a prisoner and along with others in the same condition, concerning the investigation that led to my arrest and that of various other comrades, with five of us being sentenced. I’d happily do without being the centre of attention, but I want to keep all the comrades informed. I want it because a trial is the culmination of various experiences that it’s good to discuss again at times in order not to let them fall to the level of futile opinionism.
In the so called “Scripta Manent” trial all sorts of things were put together. In a year and a half of court hearings – not to mention the amount of documents submitted – personal biographies were obviously dealt with regarding the accused and not only – there were historical-cop digressions on anarchy, discussion of previous judicial proceedings against anarchists, armed practices – past and present – publishing and street experiences… “A sometimes inextricable tangle”, a judge opens in the premise of the sentence motivations report. It is already good news to know that anarchy is incomprehensible to women and men of law. But let’s see what they write at the end of the first grade trial. [Everything in inverted comas (“”) is taken from the sentence motivations report].
First of all the FAI. In order to describe it in the sentence, they have recourse to set theory. There is a smaller set that responds to the canons of an actual subversive-terrorist association with a stable structure, lasting in time, which “stands above the persons and groups that are part of it”. This is the “FAI-association”. Then there is a bigger set that contains the former. The bigger set is the way the FAI-association wants to present itself to the public, i.e. as an instrument that exists only in the moment of action, capable of communicating through claims and with no direct knowledge. It has therefore characteristics that it is possible to find in various communiques signed FAI, from its origin up to the present day, as well as in the declarations and discussions by comrades about it.
Allegedly it contains, besides the FAI-association, also the various FAI cells “authorized by the creators of the acronym to use it, but which are not part of the FAI structure”. This set is what the judge calls the “FAI method”, considering it a mask used by the association with the sole aim of protecting itself from repression.
This is because the FAI-method, unlike the FAI-association, doesn’t correspond to the canons of article 270bis of the law. Allegedly the association made fun of cops and simple-minded comrades with this mask, partly to protect itself, partly to exploit the actions of unaware “lone wolves”, which never hurts.
This vision of anarchy, mid-way between Babeuf-style sectarianism and cowardice – a vision which never emerged during the trial – lends itself to being a judicial loophole that spares the judge from dealing with all the previous judicial acquittals concerning the FAI in regard to the 270bis law. These are not taken into consideration because in all those precedents the FAI-method was allegedly put on trial.
Another set, comprising the two just described and other FAI groups present outside the Italian State, is that called FAI-FRI, in turn re-included in the Black International.
In order to give a minimum base to the theory of the sets, the axiom the sentence refers to is the most recent jurisprudence in times of Islamic terrorism, of which the same judge is one of the most fervent producers, at least in the province of Turin, as he is often called on to decide over some apologist via Facebook’s fate. Hence the reference to lone wolves, “individual terrorism typical of the Islamist matrix, but also retraceable in the anarchist one, based on a horizontal model”. The parallel carries on by attributing to both ISIS and the FAI a horizon of struggle so vast that it takes advantage of “any act of violence and terrorism” and obtaining contributions even from unknown people.
Some of those convicted, already in the past tried for 270bis concerning the FAI, are being granted exclusion from a second trial for the period under examination in previous investigations. So the association results in fits-and-starts, operating only for certain time segments. The kneecapping of Adinolfi thus enters a non-operational period for Alfredo and an operational period for Nicola. “An inextricable tangle”, in fact, of which the judge seems to come out more confused than he had already appeared in his premise.
Non-operational periods are therefore covered by previous judicial acquittals, but the Turin judge ends up convicting people precisely re-evaluating elements which had been considered un-influential in those very trials. He thinks it possible to do so only now because “exclusively the careful analysts of the Turin Digos” would finally have made it possible to read all this in a cohesive way.
Great emphasis is given to a piece of writing of the time of the Marini trial signed by several comrades, including some of those on trial. A piece of writing in which the judge discerns the FAI thought in embryonic form. Paradoxically, therefore, according to him, in the 1990s some of those on trial publicly expressed the need to give themselves an armed organization in a text signed with names and surnames, while from 2003 onwards in anonymous texts spread through FAI they avoided letting anything slip for fear of the consequences.
This text, along with the “overall vision” (ironically personified by a factotum cop of the Turin Digos involved in the investigation, named Quattrocchi [four-eyes]) would allow, as I was saying, old elements already examined and discarded in other investigations to become “serious evidence” as now they lead to, among other things, identifying Alfredo as the promoter of one of the founding FAI groups, the Cooperativa Artigiana Fuoco e Affini (occasionalmente spettacolare) [Fire and in Affinity Crafts Cooperative (occasionally spectacular)]. In particular this happens through the fishing out of a DNA expert’s report previously discarded by another judge. From this point, like a cascade, with the same procedure and considering relations between comrades as “qualified contacts”, the remaining convictions are deduced as concerns the association. Five in total.
According to the sentence, this nucleus of 5 people is alleged to have maintained relations on a different more subtle level with the rest of the world, a level where the FAI presents itself for what it is not, camouflaging and shielding behind other unaware comrades, in both publishing groups and the wider world of actions being part of the FAI-method.
In regard to magazines and blogs, instigation to commit crime is not recognized because for the judge subversive propaganda activity was put in act, a crime by now abrogated.
Regarding the International Revolutionary Front, “elements are missing that demonstrate the existence of a multi-subjective organism capable of having an autonomous will compared to that of the individuals or single national associations”. It is established that communication between groups happened only through action and with no reciprocal knowledge, thus excluding the FRI from the application of the canons of 270bis.
“Operazione parchi puliti” [operation clean parks] by Cooperativa Artigiana Fuoco e Affini (occasionalmente spettacolare) is attributed to Alfredo, an operation against what were called CPTs [immigration detention centres] at the time (attacks on the RIS carabinieri in Parma, parcel bomb to Cofferati), even if he is acquitted of the crime of “terrorist attack” – but he is convicted for “fabrication, possession and transport of an explosive device in a public space” – in the case of Parma, as the bomb found unexploded had the switch positioned on OFF. He’s also been attributed the three phases of “Operazione FAI DA TE” [operation do it yourself], again against CPTs, of the RAT (attack on a Carabinieri Training Centre in Fossano, parcel bombs to Coema, Chiamparino and Fossati, three explosive devices at the Crocetta neighbourhood in Turin). He is convicted of being the promoter of the association in reference to time segments extending from 2003 to August 2007 and from 23rd October 2013 to the present day. He is acquitted of involvement in the parcel bombs against CPTs by Narodnaja Volja. Twenty years’ prison.
Anna is sentenced to17 years. Unlike Alfredo, she is acquitted also for “Operazione parchi puliti”. Moreover, the denomination of massacre regarding the attacks in Fossano and Crocetta changes for both of them. From political massacre to common massacre. This is because, the sentence reads, “even if a person has the qualification of public official, he cannot represent the personality of the State and an attack on a single individual cannot automatically transcend into an attack on the State”.
Nicola is sentenced to 9 years as promoter of the association for the entire period of time, from 2003 to the present day.
Sandro and I are sentenced to 5 years as participants. Sandro for the entire period, me from 18th May 2010 to the present day.
Francesca and Alessandro are acquitted of involvement in the bomb against the court of Civitavecchia carried out by Comitato Pirotecnico per un anno straordinario [Fireworks Committee for an extraordinary year].
18 comrades are acquitted of all charges.
As concerns experts’ reports brought to the trial by prosecutors, no attention is given to the linguistic one, which absurdly is precisely the one that inspired the name of the investigation. A graph report establishes the impossibility of identifying the author of a stencilled piece of writing, and the “medium probability” of identifying that of a manuscript. Prosecutors’ DNA survey concerning the attack in Parma, as said, is taken into account.
As the first grade comes to an end, Sparagna [the public prosecutor in the case] submits his appeal against the sentence, while he accepts the associative structure outlined by the judge, even if it completely distorts the one he put forward in his prosecution hypothesis. In so doing he passes from an attitude worth a doormat and reverential towards the court to that of a pissed-off bullied pre-adolescent whose little toy has been taken away. In his hysteria he demands that some other witness be heard in court in the second grade, and the acquisition of the Greek judicial authority’s documentation regarding actions carried out by CCF and relative sentences from 2011. Then he states that generic attenuating circumstances should not be granted to those on trial, given the aggressive behaviour held in court and some offensive words against the penal code, the prosecutor himself and the Quattrocchi cop. As for the rest, he reiterates all the charges of the first grade. So he is also appealing against the renaming of massacre with offence and the idea of an association operating at given times. The only variations: he didn’t request that Erika be involved in participating in a subversive association but only that she be charged with instigation [to commit crime] regarding CNA and Anarhija; no appeal against Carlo, Patrizia and Alessandro Settepani. Moreover, fearing that one of the investigations that earned him promotion to National Anti-mafia Director might slip out of his hands, or in his masochistic desire to hear some offensive words once again in the second grade, Sparagna demanded to be appointed general public prosecutor’s assistant in the court of appeal, thereby carrying out the prosecution case personally in the second grade as well, probably hoping to get to cassation with a more harmonious associative structure, and one without interruption, than that which emerged in the first grade, so as to make the accounts square without too much care for protocol.
As I finish this report I want to say a couple of things so that a sentence doesn’t remain a mere fact worth no more than being spread as information.
Neither the gravity of a sentence nor the filing of the experiences on trial in the penal code should scare. As the appeal trial begins in Turin, over twenty years of anarchist history, theories and practices will be back on trial. It’s good to see a court full of comrades because it’s a sign of the interest for what is happening and a way to prevent a trial from being reduced to a personal question, an accident of life.
I’m not saying this in terms of defence. Even if we wanted we would be deluded if we believed that a trial could be unhinged by the presence of public in court. On the contrary, I’m saying this because there is the risk that videoconferencing might in time lead to deserting the courts for the very banal reason that there would be no way to interact with the prisoners. And perhaps this is what in part happened in our case during the first grade, where videoconferencing sometimes demotivated people in solidarity and prisoners updated comrades outside about the trial.
A repressive event can be also a stimulus, certainly not a pleasant one if we want to think in terms of occasions to discuss or quarrel over a thousand things. In the bulk of papers brought to the trial there is not only the obsession of a prosecutor, of those who manoeuvre him and his subordinates, but also a myriad of arguments and tangible experiences that the anarchist movement was able to produce. To take an interest in all this can be an occasion for growth, more useful than the anxiety of showing oneself to be united so as not to cut a poor figure in the face of repression.
The “Scripta Manent” investigation takes the pretext of the debate of those comrades who at the time of another trial, that known as Marini, were able to continue to talk about anarchy without a calculator in their hands. And it wasn’t sterile polemics. For if we are accustomed to the fact that trials produce arguments, it is also true that the latter should go alongside discussions, absolutely vital for an anarchy that doesn’t want to carry on by force of habit.
Inside here, over these years, the former [the arguments] were more noticeable than the latter [the discussions], according to what has been made known on a public level. Accustomed to be sounded out at any breath of wind, we are losing the sense of polemics. Criticisms are often perceived as personal attacks, counter-productive in many respects, not least the repressive one. After all, precisely miserable people such as Sparagna would like to force us to keep a low profile, at least in a critical sense. Just this should be sufficient to push us, out of stubbornness, to having our say. But it’s not the main reason.
History is as full of polemics as it is of silences. An example of the former, talking about revolution even in hard times of war between states, in his “Risposta ai 16 anarchici di governo” [Reply to the 16 pro -government anarchists] – and the title is sufficient to grasp the tone of the polemic – Malatesta argued against those who signed Kropotkin’s “interventionist” manifesto, Malato, Guillame, Cornelissen, Grave… As an example of the latter we can mention the widespread let-it-go of many anarchists indulged in the face of Berkman’s and Goldman’s famous condescension with bolshevism until the Kronstadt massacre.
For goodness’ sake, it’s not my intention to look for illustrious precedents. But given that one often feels offended by divergences due to living in the falsified evocations of an idyllic past concerning relations between anarchists, I just want to say that calm a-critical living can be more harbinger of disasters than heated and sincere polemics. Therefore I’m absolutely in favour of arguments because they lead to growth in comrades, provided we don’t only perceive their negative sides but also the vital discussions that generate them.
Topics on which to continue to do so are not lacking. The FAI is certainly an uneasy argument, almost unmentionable. The scruples in mentioning it are absolutely “above the parts”, they affect the Italian anarchist movement almost entirely. You can very well understand that much silence around the trial derives precisely from the blanket of anxiety and fear that cops want to create around it. But if we look at the many investigations of recent years we see that they deal with antimilitarist actions, actions against CPRs, solidarity with anarchist prisoners. If we look at ongoing struggles, marches, blocks and public demonstrations, we obviously note the repetition of similar arguments.
Now let’s look at the “Scripta Manent” trial: no less than three acronyms belonging to the FAI carried out as many campaigns against former CPTs from 2005 to 2007, the RAT celebrated on 2nd June in its own way by striking a military barracks in an uneven comparison with the bombs dropped on Iraq and Afghanistan by the West, plus other actions and references to prisoners and against repression, always present in this trial. So also here, concentration camps, militarism and repression among the objectives. Anyone who strikes signing FAI certainly doesn’t single out objectives alien to the anarchist area, on the contrary they are characterized by a certain approach to the struggle.
On the contrary in many public struggles I note a certain difficulty in mentioning this trial, the issues it deals with, the campaigns carried out and the targets struck, even if they are questions that recur in those very struggles.
It should be said that the comrades who carry out these struggles absolutely never failed to give solidarity with those struck by the “Scripta Manent” investigation, even if they didn’t mention it in those struggles. So there is a sort of splitting-in-two, a sort of solidarity according to context.
It’s not a question of convergence of struggles but of ways of approaching or eluding them. Nor do I want to appear ecumenical all of a sudden, quite the opposite.
Only it’s sad to have to see up to what point particular struggles are ends in themselves. They can’t see beyond themselves, almost blinded by a limited vision, when instead the anarchist legacy has much to offer. A legacy of which one should be proud at all times and in all places, instead of thinking it inopportune at times. It’s certainly not the ideas that are lacking, but the will to be able to grasp and spread them.
Fortunately we never lacked solidarity over these years, from anyone. This must be said clearly. If anything it [solidarity] was more scared of possibly being exploited by the repression than interested in expressing itself freely, along with its beneficial intrinsic contrasts. Precisely this contrast of opinions is the best antidote to the flattening of thought. So it’s very welcome.
Perhaps we should get rid of the fear of talking because we are afraid it might not be the right moment as the cops are reading, listening, watching… Control is something that will always be there. The only way not to go round in the circles repression wants to restrict us to is to not adapt to it. In order to start talking about action again, methods, instruments… or simply to avoid remaining silent for ever.
C. C. di Alessandria “San Michele”
strada statale per Casale 50/A
Tags: Analysis, Black International, Black International of Anarchists of Praxis, Informal Anarchist Federation (FAI), International Revolutionary Front, Italy, Letter, Marco Bisesti, Operation Scripta Manent, Repression
This entry was posted on Friday, March 13th, 2020 at 11:12 am and is filed under Social Control.