Hundreds of still homeless victims of the earthquake diaster in L’Aquila in April 2009 arrived in Rome yesterday to protest against Berlusconi and his government’s handling of the re-building, or lack of it. 45 coachloads of citizens from the various comuni hit by the earthquake last year as well as local authority representatives paraded through the capital’s centre from Piazza Venezia going past Berlusconi’s private residence Palazzo Grazioli and up to the Palace of Senate where they were met by police blockades.
Several protesters were injured after being hit by police officers in riot gear armed with truncheons. Two young men were seriously injured.
Angry protestors were calling for a futher postponmement of tax payments which had been suspended since the earhtquake hit the area as well as appealing for re-building funds which had been promised but so far not produced. The recent budget proposal by the government has stated that tax payments, including arrears, would have to be made over a five year period although this has now been extended to ten years.
“We came here to ask for help” said L’Aquila’s Mayor Massimo Cialente “but we got a beating as well”. Interior Minister Robert Maroni has launched an inquest into the alleged police aggression.