Italy Arrests 13 Prison Guards Over Suspected Torture of Juvenile Detainees

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Italian authorities have detained 13 prison guards on charges of torture and ill-treatment of juvenile detainees. The arrests were made following an investigation led by Milan prosecutors, who disclosed the involvement of personnel from the Cesare Beccaria juvenile detention center in Milan.

The investigation, which utilized wiretaps and camera footage, uncovered a series of abuses dating back to at least 2022. The detainees, who were handcuffed and unable to defend themselves, were reportedly beaten in a manner designed to leave no visible marks. Milan chief prosecutor Marcello Viola described the situation as a “painful affair” and a “bad page in the history of the institutions.” He emphasized that the actions of the guards, which they believed to be justified as educational, were in fact “unlawful violence”.

The Cesare Beccaria juvenile detention center, which is staffed by 50 guards, has been operating without a director for two decades. The main guards’ union, SAPPE, expressed dismay at the news of the investigation but placed its trust in the judiciary to clarify the matter promptly.

This case has cast a spotlight on the broader issues within Italy’s penal system, which has faced criticism for overcrowding and poor living conditions for inmates. Despite having a relatively low juvenile prison population, concerns have been raised as the number of juvenile detainees has risen sharply, from 381 in 2022 to 532 by the end of February 2024.

As the legal proceedings unfold, people awaits further details on the measures that will be taken to address the systemic problems that have allowed such abuses to occur within its juvenile detention facilities.

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