Two British protesters arrested on the fringes of the Genoa riots are being held in prison under conditions that breach their human rights, their lawyer claimed yesterday.
Nicola Doherty, 27, and her boyfriend, Richard Moth, 32, have been in prison since Saturday night and have been denied access to a lawyer or consular officials. The couple were woken and taken into custody when police stormed a school occupied by the anti- capitalist Global Resistance organisation. Both were injured, prompting accusations of heavy-handed police tactics.
The two Britons, from north London, are among 78 foreigners who face jail terms of up to five years for alleged conspiracy to cause damage, aggravated resistance to police and possession of explosives. But their lawyer Louise Christian, a human rights specialist, said the pair were subjected to "totally unacceptable" conditions and called on the Foreign Office to intervene.
Ms Christian claimed the Italian authorities were in breach of several articles of the European Convention on Human Rights and said she was disappointed by the reaction of the British authorities.
She said: "This is a flagrant breach of the convention in the way they are treating those young people and I would have expected the British Government to be protesting about it."
The parents of Miss Doherty, 27, said yesterday that they too were being kept in the dark about their daughter. Jim Doherty from Chatham, Kent, said: "All we know is that she was asleep and was woken by police, battered around the head and has a broken wrist."
A friend of Ms Doherty claimed that she and her boyfriend had spent the evening at a pizza restaurant before going back to the school at 11.30pm – half an hour before about 80 officers raided the building. Richard Peacock, 35, of Hackney, north-east London, said: "I tried to get to the building to warn Nicola and Richard but the police were beating us back. The whole thing was like a military operation."
Three other Britons were also being held after the raid on the school: Mark Covell, 33, from London, who was in hospital with internal bleeding and broken ribs; Jonathan Blair, 38, from Newport; and Daniel MacQuillan, 35.