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Italy: Anti-government rioters caused €20mln of damage says Rome's mayor

ultimo aggiornamento: 15 dicembre, ore 16:28
Protesters who rioted in the Italian capital on Tuesday - the day the government narrowly won a crucial confidence vote in the parliament - caused 20 million euros of damage, Rome's mayor Gianni Alemanno said Wednesday.


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Rome, 15 Dec. (AKI) - Protesters who rioted in the Italian capital on Tuesday - the day the government narrowly won a crucial confidence vote in the parliament - caused 20 million euros of damage, Rome's mayor Gianni Alemanno said Wednesday.

'The damage is immense, we are talking about around 20 million euros,'' said Alemanno, who is a member of conservative Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi's ruling People of Freedom party.

''We will now make a closer assessment," he said.

The City of Rome will be a civil plaintiff in trials against those brought to justice for the damage, Alemanno stated.

''It is unacceptable that the city and its inhabitants, who have nothing to do with these protests and are who are innocent should pay,'' he said.

Hooded youths torched numerous vehicles, vandalised bins and benches and set some of these alight, banged the metal blinds of shuttered shops in central Rome. They threw paint and smoke bombs at the Italian lower house of parliament and attempted to storm the building.

The youths wreaked havoc one of the capital's main shopping streets, smashing windows and cash machines, as alarmed tourists and shoppers fled. Many of the youths hid their faces by wearing crash helmets and balaclavas.

Firefighters were called to deal with six burnt out vehicles in the area around Rome's famous Piazza del Popolo, including a police van, rubbish truck and four private cars which had been torched.

The famous square became a battleground littered with tear gas shells, poles, bottles, bolts and chairs while shopkeepers who had been forced to pull down shutters as the riots erupted later emerged to clear the debris.

Police, who baton-charged the protesters, said at least 50 people were injured in the riots, including two policemen. Police said they detained 41 protesters over the violence, which lasted for over four hours.

Media reports said at least 100 people were injured in the clashes,

The violence erupted as the lower and upper houses of parliament held confidence motions, both of which the government won. Defeat in either house would have forced Berlusconi to resign.

Student leaders had obtained permission to hold a peacful march through the capital to protest at government education cuts. But alleged anarchist youths infiltrated the demonstrations and attacked police with clubs, stones, smoke bombs and paint.

Alemanno compared the scenes in Rome on Tuesday to the political violence and terrorism in Italy during the 1970s and 1980s, the so-called 'years of lead'.

Tuesday's violence was not just limited to the Italian capital. Demonstrators clashed with police in Milan where the Stock Exchange was stormed and briefly occupied. In Palermo, protesters occupied the airport runway.

Interior minister Roberto Maroni said on Wednesday he would report "soon" to the Italian parliament on the violence.


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