08 June 2011

The cie of Santa Maria is on fire and it is impounded

One less. The centre of identification and expulsion of Santa Maria Capua Vetere, in the province of Caserta, no longer exists. Physically, as it was destroyed by the flames of the fire that blazed up last night. And also legally, since the Public Prosecutor’s office in Santa Maria Capua Vetere asked for its probationary impoundment, arranging also for the transferral of the detainees. Everything started when a Tunisian guy, after finding out today that his brother had died, went up to the officers and asked to be repatriated as soon as possible in order to go to the funeral. They told him to wait. And then to wait some more. Until the evening arrived. And the young man could no longer stand the humiliation.

Not only was he deprived of his freedom without having committed any crime, but he wasn’t even free to join his family in Tunisia for the funeral of one of his most loved next of kin. It was at this point, they say, that he broke a mirror and started swallowing pieces of glass. An old strategy, the most desperate one. Attempting suicide and coming out of the cages through the doors of an ambulance, hoping to be able to survive and to escape through the window of some ambulance. When the other detainees saw him fall on the floor asking for help, they all took him in front of the gate of the enclosure and shouted for help with all their might. The security forces’ officers immediately responded. But instead of using a stretcher - a witness told us – they dragged him, pulling him by the arms, while he lied lifeless on the ground. As if he were an animal.

That last humiliation was the straw that broke the camels’ back. The 96 Tunisians – who had been detained in the centre since the 18th April – began to shout with anger. The response of the security forces, in riot gear, was to shoot tear gas inside the cage, in the midst of the tent camp, where the detainees used to sleep. Instantly, the fire broke out. The clock’s hands had just gone past midnight. The fire was set up by the same tear gases, after some canisters were shot by the officers on the tents, breaking them down and causing the fire.

At least this is what the detainees told us on the phone, whilst the Police headquarters claim the opposite asserting that it was the detainees who started the fire.

Together with the flames, clashes broke out, between the officers in riot gear on one side and the detainees with their naked hands on the other. In the agitation tens of people were injured. The Police headquarters informed that there were five injured amongst the policemen and the carabinieri. While the number of the injured (both hurt and intoxicated by the gas) amongst the detainees remains unknown.

The Public Prosecutor’s office in Santa Maria Capua Vetere has ordered the probationary seizure of the detention centre. The sequestration will help in carrying out verifications and in raising evidence of the crimes committed. The head of the Public Prosecutor’s office, Corrado Lembo, justified the sequestration talking about “serious and meaningful facts of devastation” that made the “Cie of Santa Maria Capua Vetere objectively unserviceable”. In the meantime the detainees were separated in three groups, and transferred to the reception centres for asylum seekers in Manfredonia, Foggia and Crotone.

Spread the appeal LET US ENTER IN THE CIE!
In Repubblica.it the pictures of the Cie of S.M.C.Vetere destroyed by the flames

translated by Alexandra D'Onofrio