08 August 2011

Successful evasion for 30 inmates in the CIE of Rome, Italy

Jamal still feels pain in his shoulders. He jumped from the wall and landed badly. But he jumped. And now he's out. Free at last. Ready to return to his girlfriend’s arms in Bologna. He fled last night from the centre for identification and expulsion (CIE) in Rome. And along with him another 30 detainees escaped. Tunisians, Moroccans and Egyptians. The prefecture of Rome has so far not let this information out. But two eyewitnesses have confirmed the news to Fortress Europe. This is the most important escape recorded this year at the CIE of Ponte Galeria. It is no accident that it occurred two days after the publication in the Official Gazette of the new law on repatriation, increasing from 6 to 18 months the limit of detention in the centres for identification and expulsion. The same law that had heated the souls of the inmates, when on July 29 they gave life to a revolt after the beatings of three Algerian detainees who had tried to escape. But this time they decided to change strategy. And to the confrontation with the police or to the hunger strikes, they preferred escape.

They’ve been working on the plan for days in great secrecy. Especially the group of 16 Tunisians transferred last week to the CIE in Rome from Lampedusa. In the past few days they secretly cut an iron bar of the cage, behind the cells. It was thanks to that opening if last night they were able to climb over en masse. Thirty people, to be exact. It was eleven o'clock in the evening. Before the closure of the cells. The rest was a matter of moments. The group of fugitives threw themselves against a military sentry on guard, who scared by the large number of inmates, left the place running to call for reinforcements. But when the agents arrived, it was already too late. The thirty had already managed to climb the five-meter-high wall, precisely from the sentry box. And despite some belated truncheon blows, all were able to jump off the fence and disappear without a trace.

All but one boy who after having spent the night hiding in a tree to avoid being found by the agents who throughout the night thoroughly searched the surroundings of the CIE, is back this morning to knock on the door. Asking to be readmitted and to be repatriated. Because if you haven’t got anyone out there, even freedom can be scary.

Because in Italy, as in the rest of Europe, without a valid visa in your passport you constantly risk being stopped for a simple identity check, and spending another 18 months in prison, waiting to be identified and deported. It that’s the risk that each of the 30 men who escaped last night are running. Those who have already left Rome and those who are still hiding among the crowd of tourists in the streets and gardens of the capital, waiting to recover after these months of detention and to decide what must be done.

translated by Camilla Gamba