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25,000 in Italy Protest Arrest of 20 Activists

November 17, 2002|From Times Wire Services

ROME — Thousands of anti-globalization demonstrators marched in Rome, Florence and Naples on Saturday to protest the arrests of 20 activists, including a leader of the movement, on charges stemming from violent protests last year.

About 10,000 people marched through central Rome, some 10,000 more demonstrated in Naples, and at least 5,000 people walked past the Duomo in Florence with banners calling for the release of the suspects.

The 20 arrested Friday are accused of political conspiracy, subversion, disruptive propaganda to cause damage to the economy, attacks on the constitution, incitement and invasion of public buildings, police said.

Carrying banners reading "Subversive???" and shouting "Free our companions!" protesters gathered in central Rome despite a whipping wind.

The arrests of leaders of the anti-globalization movement in southern Italy were ordered by a magistrate in Cosenza, Calabria, based on a 359-page report that said the group had "a capacity to threaten state security and public order."

An additional 21 people are under investigation.

Among those detained was Francesco Caruso, head of the "no global" movement in Naples and one of the organizers of a recent anti-war march in Florence that drew more than half a million demonstrators.

"People are really angry. We feel like we deserved something much better after our successful march last week," said "no global" leader Bruno Paladini.

Opposition politicians criticized the arrests, and even some members of the government said they were "perplexed" by the decision to detain activists before they had been tried.

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