CHARGES weighed against officer who shot protester; police fire tear gas at demonstrators

Saturday, July 21st 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

GENOA, Italy (AP) _ Police fired tear gas at demonstrators Saturday as tens of thousands of marchers flooded the streets near an international summit here. Many in the crowd shouted ``Assassins, assassins!''

Authorities weighed manslaughter charges against a policeman who shot a protester dead Friday outside the gathering of industrialized nations.

Police reported 67 protesters had been arrested _ 49 of them charged with attempted murder. Most were Italians but they included demonstrators from Germany, France, Spain, Switzerland, Greece and the United States.

Prosecutors were investigating the actions of the 20-year-old policeman involved in the fatal shooting. The policeman, a conscript in Italy's paramilitary police force, was hospitalized for shock, authorities said.

In Saturday's protests, riot police fired tear gas at demonstrators who smashed windows and hurled rocks at police.

Amid a largely peaceful march numbering at least 30,000, about 150 demonstrators broke away to confront police as the march moved along a broad promenade. Black-hooded protesters used axes to rip up paving stones to throw at police, shielding themselves with road signs.

Demonstrators hurled smoke bombs in the direction of police, but some of them landed among the crowds of protesters. Police boats just offshore rushed in close as the fighting erupted in a seaside plaza. Some Genoese were swimming at the beach just a few hundred yards from the clashes.

The umbrella group that organized the massive street protests, the Genoa Social Forum, called on world leaders to suspend the summit, and demanded the resignation of Italy's interior minister, responsible for overseeing the security forces.

Vittorio Agnoletto, a spokesman for the forum, blamed outside agitators and police for Friday's violence. ``Police only acted and charged once these groups had infiltrated our ranks,'' he said, adding that protests would continue.

Leaders at the summit rejected the call to suspend their talks, though President Bush called the death ``a tragic loss of life.''

``It's also tragic that many police officers have been hurt _ men and women who are trying to protect democratically elected leaders and our necessary right to be able to discuss our common problems,'' he said Saturday.

In a joint statement, the leaders said: ``We condemn firmly and absolutely the violence overflowing into anarchy of a small minority that we have seen at work here in Genoa and at recent international meetings.''

The death during the summit of the world's wealthiest nations was the first after two years of massive protests staged by the anti-globalization movement at similar meetings. The violence Friday, which saw riot police battle demonstrators hurling rocks and firebombs, overshadowed the initial day of talks by the leaders.

Italian Foreign Minister Renato Ruggiero expressed regret for the death. ``I express my deep sadness about what happened yesterday,'' he said. ``This could only happen in the case of a provocation. This violence is before the eyes of everybody and everything was done to try to prevent it.''

The dead man was identified as Carlo Giuliani, 23, an Italian living in unoccupied buildings in the center of Genoa. A police official speaking on condition of anonymity said Giuliani had a long criminal record that included weapons and drug charges.

The riots were a violent offshoot of peaceful demonstrations by tens of thousands of marchers _ representing trade unions, environmental groups, farmers, anarchists and the unemployed _ who descended on Genoa to express anger and concern over the ill effects of globalization and the widening gap between rich and poor.

Hospitals said 206 people had been hurt in Friday's clashes on the opening day of the Group of Eight summit, more than doubling previous estimates. About two-thirds of the injured were protesters, the remaining one-third police.

There were sympathy marches from Canada to Greece to Germany.