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Italy detains 13 prison officers on suspicion of torturing young detainees

Italian police arrested 13 prison guards on suspicion of torture and ill-treatment of young detainees, according to Milan prosecutors on Monday (22).

In addition to the 13 officers, 12 of whom work at the Cesare Beccaria juvenile detention center in Milan, eight other officers were suspended, prosecutors said in a statement.

The juvenile prison has 50 guards, but has not had a director for 20 years. The institution had no immediate comment on the arrests, while the main guards union issued a statement saying it was “dismayed” by news of the investigation.

“We know that prison guards across Italy operate with professionalism and humanity… However, as always, we trust the judiciary to clarify the matter as quickly as possible,” said the SAPPE union.

The investigation resulted from reports from the ombudsman of prisoners' rights and used the testimonies of young detainees, wiretaps and images from cameras inside the prison, the justice officials pointed out.

The alleged crimes would have been committed from 2022 until today, they added.

“It is a painful case and a bad page in [história das] institutions”, said Milan’s chief prosecutor, Marcello Viola, at a press conference.

He added that the detainees were handcuffed so they could not protect themselves and beaten so that no marks were left.

“The suspects believed that their actions were justified as educational, in response to the bad behavior of the inmates, but instead it was illegal violence,” prosecutor Letizia Mannella told journalists.

Italy, like other European countries, has had problems in its prisons, with watchdogs saying years of underfunding have led to overcrowding and poor conditions for inmates.

Italy has a relatively low youth prison population, although the number is growing rapidly. Antigone, a prisoner welfare organization, said there were 532 young people detained in 17 centers at the end of February, up from 381 in 2022.

Source: CNN Brasil

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