The arrest and imprisonment of the caravan
22.Aug.01 - After almost a month of imprisonment in italy all activists of the publixtheatre caravan who were arrested while leaving genoa on july 22nd have been released and deported. However, this does not mean that the charges have been dropped. Despite the absurdness of the accusations against the publixtheatre caravan the italian authorities continue to pursue in their criminalization of the artist. They are accused of 'vandalism' and 'endangering public safety'. The public prosecuter assumes that the publixtheatre caravan is at the core of the criminal organization which functions under the name of 'black bloc'.
The publixtheatre caravan activists are not the only ones directly affected by the attempts of the italian government to criminalize the demonstrators durign the G8 summit last month in Genoa last month. At the moment a number of persons are stillimprisoned in italy and there are legal proceedings going on against people from italy and abroad. We demand the immediate release of all prisoners and the suspension of the ongoing criminalization attempts.
[17.aug.01]: the remaining 5 members of the caravan have been released and deported from italy. because of the release of all publixtheatre activists we have stopped collecting signatures for their release. [thanks to everyone who signed the call!] there are, however, still people imprisoned because of the actions against the G8 summit and we demand their immediate release as well. we hope to be able to give a more encompassing description of the current situation here shortly - stay tuned.
[14.aug.01]: All women and 10 of the men were released tonight, because of a formal error 5 men have to stay there, but only until Thursday.
[13.aug.01]: This monday the first investigation hearing of the publixtheatre caravan is scheduled in Italy. The hearing takes place in order for the italian authorities to determine whether or not the publixtheatre caravan members have to remain in prison awaiting a possible trail. although the individual hearings start this morning at 0900h the authorities have another 48hours to come up with a ruling. [for more up to date information visit the caravans web-site]
[2130h]: The hearing has ended just after 2100h. There has been no verdict yet, but the lawyers expect that all 25 members of the caravan will be released tomorrow.
On the way back to the prison, the prisoners were welcomed by a crowd chanting: 'no border, no nation, stop deportation!'
[29.jul.01]: for several weeks the publixtheatre caravan was travelling along and across borders: from refugee camps to bordercamps and counter summits. Artists, actors and experimental theatre activists staged performances, played music and shot videos. on leaving genoa the publixtheatre Caravan on their way to the bordercamp in Frankfurt was stopped and arrested by italian police. The accusations levelled against them are as absurd as they could possibly be: The artist group is accused of vandalism and endangering public safety. The court acts on the assumption that the publixtheatre caravan is the core of a so called "black bloc"!
[26.jul.01]: PublixTheatreCaravan are currently still in Italian prisons. After a first investigation they were transferred to the status of "prisoners on remand" on Thursday July 26th 2001. The lawyers issued an appeal against this because of one-sidedness. If this is not accepted or if a second investigation (which is to be held within 25 days after the first one) concludes a positive sentence, then they will face charges within the next 6 months. The theatre activists are accused of vandalism, endangerment of public safety as well as of membership to a criminal organization which Italian officials call the "black bloc". The last charge is the probable cause of the complete contact barrier imposed on them which results in no contact whatsoever between the arrested and their families.
The lawyers of the arrested actors, playwrights, artists and journalists want a resumption of the first investigation. Also they are demanding the transfer of the female members who are kept separately in Voghera, to Genoa where the men are imprisoned.
The state of health of the imprisoned is extremely alarming: according to reports of previously released persons and a report of the Austrian consul in Milan, there are indications of mistreatment and abuse in the course of the arrest as well as inside the prisons. It was reported that one person had knocked out teeth and his/her hair was cut off. As of now, because of the complete contact barrier it is not possible to get detailed information on their state of health. People who were released and allowed to leave Italy -also due to heavy pressure on the Italian government by their countries' officials -are all reporting devastating conditions inside the prisons.
Whilst almost all countries have increased pressure on the Italian officials, Austrian Foreign Minister Benita Ferrero-Waldner only stated her "complete confidence in the Italian officials" upon a meeting with her Italian colleague official Ruggiero. Furthermore she added that "pocket knives, clubs and black t-shirts" were found inside the caravan's bus and that some of the arrested were even "known to the police". In such case, said Ferrero-Waldner, one should have to be aware of such consequences, not only in Italy but in any other country in the world.
[24.jul.01]: on july 22nd activists of the `publixtheatrecaravan no-border no-natio' were stopped by the italian police in the eastern part of recco and got arrested. the caravan was on the way from genoa to the bordercamp in frankfurt.
not much is known since it is not possible to get in contact with any of the activists [17 from austria; 8 from germany, US, australia and slovakia] of the caravan.
the austrian office in italy confirmed the arrest and gave us the information that they are all in different prisons. we don`t know what the accusations are against them. from the media we heard that on wednesday it will be decided if they will be deported from italy or imprisoned.
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