The request to release our friend, arrested in Frankfurt after the protest against troika’s policies, has been rejected. The investigations have been concluded. There is no evidence of attacks committed by Federico but, in the light of the German legislation on security, he is seen as an instigator or a violent person. However this is not the case. The following is a step by step explanation of the situation
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— Translated by Emilia Maria Pezzini and Nathan Anyonge
Federico Annibale is in jail in Frankfurt. He was arrested on the 18th of March around 10.30 am while sitting and eating a sandwich. He first travelled to the German city with the intention of participating Blockupy, an international protest against troika’s policies. 350 people were initially detained by the German police, however Federico has since been the only one to be immediately arrested rather than being placed in a state of preventive detention. He hasn’t been released from jail since then and there’s the risk that he could there for a very long time.
On the 9th of April the public prosecutor’s investigations were concluded. There is no evidence that supports the serious charge of having caused injuries to public officers for which Federico was originally accused. As we have previously reported, based on information received from his family and attorneys, Federico has been accused of participanting in the clashes between protesters and police officers. These clashes took place near the new headquarters of the Central European Bank, on the day it was inaugurated by its President Mario Draghi.
Federico was easily identifiable as he had choosen not to conceal his face and happened to be wearing a red jacket. This made it very easy to single him out of a crowd of protesters. Some officers claim to have witnessed Federico throwing stones and glass bottles, intentionally targeting the rows of police forces in riot gear. However the only available audio-visual material consists of one video showing Federico Annibale throwing an umbrella. Ultimately, none of this has been filed in the records about the case: Federico has not attacked or injured anyone.
What do they really have against him? The testimony of some police officers claiming that Federico was found in possesion of two stones immediately following his arrest and this ultimately is the problem. Germany has approved a special legislation regarding public order, denominate 125 A. Part of it specifically concerns protests and the “dangerous” behaviour of participants. According to 125 A, the fact that the police officers found Federico in possession of two stones during a protest that resulted in clashes and disorder, ensures that he falls whitin this legislation. Thus the final charge against him is of “Schwerer Landfriedensbruch”, which means having taken part in a violent act against humans or things out of a mass of people in a way that was a danger to public order, carrying a weapon or dangerous tool and having been willing to use it in this act. He now risks between 6 months and 10 years of detention.
On the 9th of April a preliminary hearing for his release in anticipation of the trial also took place. It was denied even though Federico, as suggested by his lawyer, wrote a letter to the judge. The letter explained that though he did participate in the protest and he might have lost control when he found himself in the middle of clashes not caused by himself, he has never in any way been involved with any violent group. Federico has asked to be on probation, providing guarantees of his permanence in Frankfurt until the beginning of the trial. This would be at the house of family friends based in the city who have a respectable and impeccable social status. Nevertheless, in the Judge’s opinion, there is risk of his escape to Italy. According to his lawyer, German law is particularly strict in cases involving foreigners. This is not the first time the law has been applied in such an extreme fashion, and many similar cases can be found.
The trial in which the accused of “Schwerer Landfriedensbruch” will be verified will begin in a period of time comprised between 2 and 5 months and Federico will have to remain in jail till then. His brother Lorenzo is currently in Frankfurt. He has told us Federerico’s family’s presence was not permitted during the preliminary hearing held on Thursday. Futerhmore they have also been prevented from seeing him through the window of the courtroom that had opportunely been covered by a curtain even though this is not part of the standard procedure. After the session, before they was allowed to get closer to Federico to talk to him, Lorenzo and his cousin were stopped and searched by around ten police officers.
These are the facts. And these facts prove that there is a high risk that Federico could be regarded as a violent person, an instigator of violence or even a terrorist. We as colleagues and most of all friends of Federico cannot refrain from expressing our opinion. Although the procedure we have explained is congruent with the German law, Federico is receiving an extremely rigorous and unjustifited treatment when taking into account his alleged actions and his profile. The case has certainly been influenced by the anger that has arisen in Frankfurt and in the whole Germany following the disorders and serious damages caused by the Blokupy protest. This treatment almost seems like they are “making an example of him”.
If the charges against him are not dropped, he will have to pay for the consequences for having committed a mistake – in addition to the detention that he is already serving. But how can we not take into account the fact that Federico’s red jacket and unconcealed face singled him out of a crowd of protesters wearing helmets and dressed in black who appear in thousands of photos on the web? Why should the court doubt his guaranteed permanence in Frankfurt, especially has he has never resisted or manifested any improper behaviour since the moment of his arrest? Why have the authoroties insisted in preventing him from seeing, his immediate family?
Obviously, we cannot emphasize our concerns to the German police or public prosecution, but we can to everyone who have heard about Federico and his case. We reiterate that, as in previous occasions since hishigh school years, he was in Frankfurt with a group of university students with the intention of attending a demonstration as an individual protester. Nothing more. He has never been part of any group or organization, including the numerous groups who are expressing their support for him. He has never been detained in any of the rallies he has participated in the past. He doesn’t have any charge connected to violent or criminal acts precedent to the one that is awaiting judgement in Frankfurt. Federico is not an instigator or a violent person.
Federico is a postgraduate student who’s completing a Master in Development Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) of the University of London and he is one of our collaborators and author for the “Productions” section of dailySTORM, who knows about the themes for which he protests and who has never had any relation to any extremist entity or violent fringe. Federico is one of us and we want him back home as soon as possible.
We are with you.
Testata giornalistica iscritta al Registro della Stampa del Tribunale di Roma, autorizzazione n. 12 del 15 Gennaio 2013.