25th October 2010
Italy’s Interior Minister Roberto Maroni today threatened ‘tough intervention’ unless violent protests against the building of a rubbish dump stop.
Mr Maroni spoke out after yet another night of violence by masked rioters left three police officers injured, one of whom was taken to hospital with a serious eye injury.
The officers, who were part of two plain-clothes patrols in unmarked cars, were dragged from their cars and beaten by the gang of masked youths.
Three men aged 18, 22 and 24 were later arrested for the attack amid claims they had been drafted in by the local mafia – known as the Camorra – to cause trouble.
The Camorra has a heavy hand in rubbish in the area, extorting contracts for its collection and disposal, with claims that it also offers to get rid of toxic waste from overseas if the price is right.
In recent days there has been an escalation of violence at Terzigno near Naples, site of the proposed dump, with cars regularly being torched and rocks, fireworks and Moltov cocktails thrown at police.
Over the weekend a small quantity of explosives was seized by police close to the area where the rioters have set up their protest camp. However no direct link has yet been proved.
Speaking to students in Varese near Milan at a conference on organised crime, minister Maroni said: ‘At Terzigno there have been real acts of wanton violence against the forces of law and order and this is no longer acceptable.
That is why I am appealing to those involved to lay down their weapons, otherwise I think it will be necessary for tough intervention, more so than there has been up to now.
‘These officers have been attacked ion the dead of night with rocks and beaten with bars.’
Terzigno has been the scene of violent protests for several weeks and as a result rubbish has been piling up in the streets of the nearby city of Naples prompting health fears.
Two years ago Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was faced with a similar situation and managed to resolve the problem – blaming the cause of it on the left wing Naples city council.
Residents of Terzigno, which has a national park surrounding the dormant volcano of Vesuvius, are opposed to the building of a new waste disposal centre for health reasons.
They claim that the site will not recycle enough rubbish and give off toxic fumes which will pollute the local environment and threaten the lives of children.
Berlusconi’s government has released £12million to deal with the situation immediately and said that it will put the new plant on hold – providing the rioting stops.
However the plan is also conditional on the continued use of another waste disposal centre near Terzigno with vegetable compost being brought in to dispose of the tons of rubbish that has built up.
Officials say it will take ten days to get back to normal – providing there is no more violence – but locals are said to be unhappy with the offer and there are fears of a further violent backlash.