Statement of Joe Moffatt who was arrested at the Genoa G8 protests


In July 2001 after the Genoa G8 summit protests during which Carlo Giuliani was shot dead by police a WSM member and Irish protester Joe Moffat was arrested.  He was held for 16 days during which he was beaten and imprisoned.  On his release and return to Ireland he released the following statement detailing what happened to him during those days of arrest and prison.  For details of what happened in Genoa before these events see Eyewitness account of the Genoa G8 protest written by another WSM member who was there.


On the morning of July 22nd 2001 Ciaran Hegarty and I were going to the local shop to purchase tobacco. We were due to start our return bus journey to Dublin, Ireland, in about one hours time. On route we passed a Carabiniere station. Ciaran suggested that we turn around and walk back to our campsite when we saw the Carabiniere, but as we had done nothing and were doing nothing, I felt we had no concerns.

When we reached a Carabiniere car we were screamed at aggressively by Carabiniere inside the patrol car. The doors then flew open and both Carabiniere approached Ciaran and myself. I kept an attentive eye on my approaching officer but from out of the corner of my eye I saw the other officer lash out at my friend, who I understand somehow thankfully managed to escape. I offered no form of resistance, as the CCTV camera monitoring Carabiniere entrance will prove, and if the camera angle allows we could possibly see Ciaran being attacked.

I was ordered at first to sit down, as one officer ran a check upon my passport through the radio transmitter. I was then ordered to stand and gestured at to turn out my pockets. To my absolute shock what I had though was a cigarette fighter in my left hand pocket turned out to be a Swiss Army knife that I had been using the night before to open bottles of wine. I was immediately handcuffed then placed in the back of Carabiniere car and driven into the complex.

On arrival I was again made sit down on the floor but this time my knees were pushed into my chest. I was surrounded by Carabiniere, perhaps eight stood around me. They each made aggressive suggestions that I was a black bloc member. After about ten or fifteen minutes from arrival at the station the beatings began.

I was taken into an office by one of my arresting Carabiniere and pushed into a chair. There were three other officers in this room. My arresting Carabiniere became more agitated. Initial vocal aggression turned into painful physical aggression. I was beaten around the head and kicked in the chest and legs and chopped on the back.

I was then pushed into a seat and the process of my Passport identification began (again). During this procedure the most frightening thing throughout my whole ordeal happened - the arresting Carabiniere attempted to stab me in the right arm with a combat knife. They demanded my eyes look groundwards and I felt a small prick upon my right arm I lifted my head and saw that the arresting Carabiniere had the combat knife in his hand that must have just pricked me.

He stood up and began moving around the desk and his gestures became more aggressive. He made a lunge across the desk at me with this combat knife pointed directly at my arm. I immediately jumped out of my seat and thankfully the combat knife did not reach my arm. The other Carabiniere in the room offered calming gestures towards my arresting Carbiniere and then managed to lead him from the room.

My name was again asked, and again asked how you spell it? While sitting there my arresting Carabiniere again entered the room and hit me on the head with a coin. This caused a small cut to the front left side of my head drawing blood. From this office I was taken and brought to another room, which had three plainclothes Carabiniere (I assume) people behind a large desk, this was the area of fingerprinting, photographing and general identification.

I was asked to remove the blood from my head by wiping my jacket over my head so they could take a picture of me. Again as I went through this process I was punched and kicked. I had not seen my arresting Carabiniere for perhaps half an hour but when in this room and sitting on the ground he collected a stick from a box containing many sticks and struck me upon the right arm.

I actually suspected that the final blow delivered had broken my forearm, as I was unable to move it for perhaps a minute and swelling occurred instantly and was highly visible. I was again placed in the Carabiniere corridor and made sit with my knees pressed firmly into my chest, and surrounded intimidatingly by Carabiniere. From here I was brought to the Doctor, whose clinic was on this same corridor, who applied some solution to my head, he did not examine my arm or ask about my stooped posture. Having received two chops to the back so standing upright was difficult. I noticeable stooped when walking.

I was then brought away to be photographed again, this time by people in greyish uniforms, who I now believe are Penitentiary Police. I was strip searched and had all personal belonging taken away (my watch is still missing, as are some articles of clothing). I was placed alone in some form of holding cell. After maybe two hours another prisoner was introduced into this cell, an Italian who had been in hospital since Thursday with a head wound. He spoke very little English and I spoke no Italian. We stayed for what seems like maybe eight hours &endash; though it could easily have been more - but I can't be definite.

During this time I heard many instances of beatings. Peter, a fellow inmate at Pavia, was placed in this holding cell but frequently taken out to be intimidated. I too faced this intimidation and humiliation. The holding cell looked out onto a courtyard with Carabiniere constantly passing and making remarks and gestures about my future (one Carabiniere went so far as to go from the courtyard into the holding cell area and gestured me over to the gate and gestured a hex on me). We were constantly screamed at if we were caught attempting to talk or did not have our eyes fixed firmly to the ground.

On being moved to Pavia we each faced a fresh round of intimation and violence. I was taken from the holding cell and made sit on the floor as a guard patted my head and stroked my ears as if I was a dog (I did hear people imitating dogs so assume the guards were forcing people to behave like dogs). We were prepared for transport to Pavia, with my handcuffs placed uncomfortable tightly (Michael still had marks upon his wrists about eight days after our transportation). With our arrival at Pavia I was slapped upon the face a number of times.

The most painful incident occurred on arriving at Pavia when I was kidney punched - leaving me unable to walk in an upright position for a couple of days. The Doctor at Pavia examined me but offered me nothing for my back, nor commented upon my arm. We were given sheets and then taken to the top floor of Pavia and brought to our cells.


On my first day in Pavin, Monday July 23, I saw a Magistrate. It was claimed that the Swiss Army knife found in my possession had traces of blood on it. The Magistrate remanded me in custody until analysis of the Swiss Army knife was completed. I understood this process would take one week and I could possible be free the following Monday. Initially my solicitor was Michela Porcile (I was told by Michela that another Irish detainee whom was with our group was to be released, and also I was told that Michela would call tomorrow afternoon &endash; but this was the last I saw of her).

Since arrival in Pavia I had no contact with other prisoners, other then the ten or so minutes Michael and myself shared in our holding cell (Michael asked why I was moving so poorly and I showed him my back, which he said was marked). I had absolutely nothing in my cell to occupy my time. It was a relief that on my second day, Tuesday, I moved cells. My impression is that all anti-G8 protestors were moved to Section 7 of Pavia prison.

I had the company of Sam, which was a huge relief. We talked about the difference it made to feel the sun on your arms; this luxury had been deprived in our first cell, which had had an iron grill over the windows. Our new accommodation had no grill so we could put our arms through the bars and feels the sun - it felt fantastic. Sam and I talked about how we were initially arrested, our treatment and our hopes of getting out as soon as possible. We played chess - Sam is by far the better player - so we each at last had something other than incarceration to occupy our minds.

When Sam was released I admit to having a feeling of regret (sorry Sam). The few days on my own, with little to occupy me, had proved very difficult. Now with Sam gone I again faced complete loneliness in my cell, nobody to have a conversation with or any chess partner. Though Sam's release actually brought me more joy than regret, I was most certainly happy to see someone guilty of only being in the wrong place wrong time go free (Sam had been in the Media Centre when it was attacked by police). Also I had asked Sam to phone Dublin and explain my concerns over my arrest. My overriding concern was that the Carabiniere would attempt to frame me for something.

When arrested I was informed that I was being charged with stabbing a police officer and I was naturally very concerned to contact Dublin and explain that I in no way took part in a stabbing, be it police or anybody. Sam thankfully did contact Dublin and explained my concerns to my girlfriend. It was Sam's telephone call which actually confirmed my detention, the Italian authorities had denied they had me in detention even though I had actually been seen by a Magistrate days before.

By that Wednesday evening it was obvious that there were not a great many anti-G8 protestors left at Pavia. We were allowed now to freely shout through our bars to determine our numbers, and just generally talk about our legal processes (on previous occasion the guards demanded this activity to stop). Over the next day, Thursday 26 July, it appeared that the only remaining protestors left were all in cells to the right of me, I have no ways of really telling how many were remaining at this stage, but I think it was probably myself, Hanny, Achim, Michael and Peter.

On this Thursday I had a visit from an Italian parliamentarian who asked me about the conditions in Pavia. I told how I had made no contact with the outside world since my incarceration. He asked had I spoken to my consulate, I had not and I told him I had previously requested to do so, I think it was on the Tuesday.

Within two hours I had a telephone conversation with my Embassy in Rome. I was told a campaign for my release was underway and that the Italian state was facing international pressure over it's policing methods over the G8 event. Returning to my cell an additional bonus - the Italian parliamentarian had left me his copy of that day's International Herald Tribune. I at last had something to read and some details about last weekend's events.

Friday 27 July was my first visit to the exercise block. I had repeatedly asked to be allowed out to excersie and at last it was now authorized. Being in the exercise yard was again like feeling the sun on ones arms again, a complete joy. I walked and walked in the sun, pleased to feel its warmth on my body, pleased to have more space than my cell.

During this first exercise period the guards came and told me my Consulate was here to personally visit. A representative from the Irish Embassy in Rome, Eoin Duggan, and another solicitor, Marco Romeo who I believed to be a solicitor from Genoa Social Forum, visited me at Pavia. I informed them that I had received a beating from Carabiniere &endash; and showed them my swollen bruised forearm and complained of my back - but was relieved to tell them that the staff at Pavia had not beaten me.

I also informed them that the Swiss Army knife was categorically not mine and that it had been embedded in a tree before I had taken it to open wine Saturday 21 July. I suggested they contact the Socialist Workers Party in Dublin as Joe (Carolan) and Heather (Lyall) had their tent's entrance directly opposite the Swiss Army knife and could hopefully verify that the knife had been in the tree. (Heather Lyall made a statement indicating that in all likehood the Swiss Army knife was her own as she had gone to Genoa with a Swiss Army knife but did not return with one).

I also wished complete clarification upon what I was charged with. The Carabiniere had accused me of stabbing a police officer but thankfully I was charged with no such offence, according to Eoin and Marco. Eoin again informed me a campaign was underway in Ireland to secure my release, and Eoin thankfully also supplied me with some books &endash; at last something to occupy the mind, and money to supply my nicotine habit (100.000 lire though Eoin was supposed to have given me 150.000 lire).

By the seventh or eight day the remaining anti-G8 protestors had at last had free association during exercise. We shared our insecurities and did our best to support each other. What details we had of the last weekend's events were thin on the ground but we shared what we had.

I again spoke to my Consulate over the phone on Tuesday 31 July. I was told that forensic result on the Swiss Army knife found in my procession which should have been back the day before, Monday, had still not returned. The results not being back did give me a major sense of depression. I had expected that once we got the results I would leave Pavia. Also my Consulate informed me that even if the results came back that day I may still spend the next two days in Pavia as the bureaucracy would not allow my immediate release.

I informed my Consulate that if the results on the forensics came back and determined that human blood was found on the Swiss Army knife I would only do a blood test under conditions of protest - a hunger strike. Personally I could not understand why if they suggested that blood was on the Swiss Army knife they could not have taken a sample of my blood to determine if the blood was mine, instead the procedure appeared to be, first confirm that blood was on the Swiss Army knife, then do a blood test to see if that blood belonged to me.

During my detention at Pavia, and to the best of my knowledge, I am not aware of any staff members of Pavia engaging in beating of any anti-G8 protestors (however upon release one inmate did apologise for not being more informative with us but claimed that if he had been the guards would "cause oppression"). However unquestionably the staff proved to be less helpful in informing us of our rights, as they should have been (particularly regarding communications).

Around July 30 Achim Nathrath and I came to the conclusion that a concerted effort was in place, from quarters unknown, to keep us as uninformed as possible about outside events or even about our own judicial processes. I wish to highlight the attempts to enforce our ignorance of our positions.

Eoin Duggan, a representative of the Irish Embassy in Rome, had told me over the phone, on August first, he had been urging people to write me at Pavia. By August sixth the grand total of my post was three cards, one support letter and another letter from the Irish Commission for Prisoners Overseas. The amount of post received in no reflects the amount of post send from Dublin.

My anti-G8 co-inmates equally felt that post was not getting through and that we were being kept intentionally ignorant. Eoin Duggan also told me that the prison authorities had complained to the Irish Embassy over the volume of faxes sent to me - apparently the volume was clogging up the system. Again I had only received five faxes throughout my entire detention, two of which were from my Embassy and one fax pertained to my good character while the remaining two were support letter against my detention.

Another contentious issue was the lack of details offered about the Matricola. In this office details pertaining to your case are stored and open access, is in theory, available to all prisoners. An inmate on August fourth informed me of this Office, not any prison official. I requested to go and was duly rewarded with three faxes - my first to be collected. We only found out, about eight days into our detention, we could actually send letters.

Faxes we were told could be sent to Ireland and Germany, but again obstructions were placed in our way and I do not think any of us managed to fax home. I was restricted to one phone call per week, but was in a far more fortunate position then my German friends who did not make one phone call throughout their entire detention at Pavia. The Magistrate informed me I could ring Dublin but when I requested this I was told I needed written authorisation from the Magistrate.

Achim was moved to Genoa on Thursday morning August 2. He had been given the date of August 8 for a court appearance. The following day at about 5.30 in the morning we were woken, I had been sharing a cell with Michael from the previous day (we had requested to share a cell as there was now only four anti-G8 people detained).

My remaining three friends were then told they were to be transferred to Genoa. I then had to face my detention without what I thought would be any form of emotional support - I was wrong, as I was now integrated into general Pavia prisoner population. These people offered me nothing but both emotional and material support; they were generous with their time and also their cigarettes. I was released from Pavia on August 8, informed that morning that I was to be set free. I still remain ignorant as to my standing under Italian law - have charges been dropped or am I still charged?

Coping With Detention

The first day and a half in Pavia were spent under a condition of complete lockdown, whereby I was isolated from all individuals except for prison guards and the prisoner who brought food to me. Even after this period attempts were made to keep us absolutely isolated from the other non-G8 prisoners. It would still be some number of days before we, anti-G8 protestors, would get free association in the exercise yard. Most of my time was spent walking back and forth across my cell, back and forth and back and forth, and general physical exercise in my cell.

We each had reading material by Friday 27 July, which was some comfort to each of us. I think the greatest difficulty we each faced was our ignorance of events outside Pavia, and also the Italian legal process. It is difficult to describe how ones ignorance of outside events can play with your mind. I asked myself fundamental questions like are people still generally interested in the welfare of anti-G8 prisoner? Or have people adopted an attitude of apathy towards our protests, perhaps thinking we're somehow in detention because we deserve it? What's the legal procedure in Italy, how long will all this take? Why don't we see solicitors other than at court appearances?

When in Pavia, certainly for the first eight to ten days, we could largely only speculate over the activities to secure our release. We had very little details to work with. It's really only when we could speak with our consulates, me over the phone my friends on physical visits that we could appreciate that we were not forgotten. It's incredibly difficult to be positive in a situation where you are almost completely starved of information.

Initially my hope lay with the telegrams, which began arriving from Ireland around Friday July 27 or Saturday 28 July. Though these messages were very short on detail they at least told me I was not forgotten and that a campaign was in place to promote my release. Another source of information and support were the details from Pavia prisoners who would shout up to our cell about the events since our incarceration, which gave grounds for some hope (we were told that we should not be long in prison as we were not criminals).

My coping mechanism was probably my attempts to make everything one very long second. I again and again reminded myself that time does not discriminate and that an hour of reading a good book was the equivalent of an hour pacing your cell.


It was tremendous to return to Dublin and see my friends waiting to greet me at the airport. I was surprised by the media attendance but I suppose this is testimony to the excellent campaign to secure my release, orchestrated by my good friends, and an exceptional afford from my girlfriend. Thank you to Dave Lordan who in his enthusiasm to highlight my case to the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs was arrested on a spurious Public Order charge. I hope, when Dave has his day in court, we can all attend to show our support. I cannot disguise the fact that I still remain conscious that innocent people remain in jail over events in Genoa.

I think particularly of my four friends, three of which remain in jail, and also members of the NoBorders public theatre group. Truthfully I hope that these people are released soon to again enjoy the company of their loved ones. I think also of the support and humanity offered me from non-G8 protestors at Pavia.

It was pointed out that the real criminals in Italy are the one's outside Pavia in positions of power, not the people within Pavia or the many courageous Italian people. My experience only confirms this view. Thank you all for your support.