Alfredo Cospito, Italian Anarchist on Hunger Strike for 99 Days

From lundi matin #367, 23/01/2023

We don’t want a martyr, but the end of 41bis

Since 2013, the anarchist Alfredo Cospito has been imprisoned for shooting Roberto Adinolfi in the leg, CEO of Ansaldo Nucleare, the main Italian nuclear company. The action had been claimed by the Informal Anarchist Federation. Sentenced to 10 years in prison, subject to detention conditions equivalent to those of high-security units, he was then sentenced again for his involvement in 2006 in the planting of two parcel bombs which caused no casualties. He was subsequently sentenced to life imprisonment for “aggravated massacre” and placed under the “41-bis” detention regime, considered by all observers to a regime of torture. Since October 20, 2022, Mr. Cospito has been on a hunger strike against this special regime considered a slow death sentence. Dozens of rallies and support actions are currently taking place around the world so that Italian justice does not let him die within its walls.

This is a fact massively ignored by lovers of the charming Peninsula: Italian justice has a habit of letting people who oppose it die by hunger strike. In recent years, this has been the case of three detainees in opposition to the judicial treatment of their case: a Sardinian separatist, Salvatore “Doddore” Meloni (2017), and two common law detainees, Gabriele Milito (2018) and Carmelo Caminiti (2020). Today, the case of Alfredo Cospito, who is beginning his 99th day of hunger strike, is all the more worrying as it attacks the very foundations of the crushing machine of Italian justice: the 41 bis, a particularly inhuman detention regime and real life imprisonment (egarstolo ostativo) without any possibility of parole.

Knowing that the Italian left and their fetishism of the law, as Wu Ming also explains on its group’s blog, is largely at the origin of this relentlessness, we will not be surprised to find in a newspaper of the conservative right, Il Foglio, one of the best texts published on his case. It must be said that it was written by someone, Adriano Sofri, of whom we cannot say that he is a comrade, but that he certainly knows what the judicial shredder is. This is what Sofri writes:

I will try to summarise. The anarchist Alfredo Cospito is in prison. He is 55 years old. He was sentenced to 10 years and 8 months in prison in 2014, because he was found guilty of injuring the legs of the administrator of the Ansaldo Nucleare [a nuclear energy company], Roberto Adinolfi [named in a letter claiming responsibility as “one of the major players in the rehabilitation of nuclear energy in Italy”], in 2012. He was then accused of having placed two “low potential” explosive packets on the site of the School of Carabinieri in Fossano (Cuneo), in June 2006, without the intention, and without the effect, of harming the physical integrity of anyone. Cospito spent 6 years in prison under the so-called high security regime, which provides for strong restrictions both in the mode of detention and in the possibilities of mitigation through access to permits and alternative measures of detention. Last April, the high security regime was judged inadequate by the Justice system, which decided to subject Cospito to the 41bis regime, the measure introduced in the 1980s to prevent members of the Mafia from maintaining relations with the outside world; a measure presented as temporary but which become permanent and a measure that is still debated for its unconstitutionality and for the gratuitousness of the abuses associated with it, abuses which have nothing to do with security, but which brings it closer to a regime of torture than incarceration. Cospito is not a mafioso, of course, but an anarchist, according to his own claim: the extension of the 41bis implies the assimilation of the relations between anarchist militants to the relations between members of organised crime.

Since October, Cospito, in confinement in Sassari, has been on hunger strike against the 41bis, a regime that he suffers personally with and one that is de rigueur in the Italian penal system. As “head of a terrorist organization” – that of the attack in Fossano – Cospito was sentenced to twenty additional years at both levels of jurisdiction. Until, last July, the Court of Cassation raised the stakes to the maximum, by transforming the crime into a “massacre against the internal personality of the State”, with a corresponding penalty: a life sentence, which forever excludes the slightest attenuation. This condemnation to a slow death, elaborated and stipulated in the beginning as a provisional measure and linked to the state of emergency, has become habitual and unremarkably ordinary in the Italian legal system. At this point, Cospito ceased to be a person, an inmate, a convict, and turned into a monstrosity that was not only judicial but human and clinical. An aggravated massacre is declared for a public attack on a police institution, which did not aim to cause any victims and did not cause any. Cospito could only become a person again by deciding to give his own body over to a death that was not a death by stages, according to the rule of an “end to the sentence, never”. His hunger strike is a hard strike, which has already put him in an alarming state [He has lost 38 kilos and is starting to deplete his muscle mass]. In appearance, two extremisms clash: an expansive “justice”, an anonymous justice, a machine like justice, assured of personal irresponsibility and the prisoner’s desire to go right “to the end”. Everyone sees, cannot fail to see, that there is nothing symmetrical in these two extremisms. The day before yesterday [December 19], a sentence enforcement court rejected Cospito’s appeal against 41 bis, almost automatically, like the good old Pontius Pilate. However, as a shadow of repentance, the Court of Appeal of Turin which is judging Cospito and his co-accused [Anna Beniamino, sentenced to 16 years and 6 months] decided to refer to the Constitutional Court the decision on the compatibility between life imprisonment and the exclusion of mitigating circumstances, and a “low-impact act” such as that attributed to Cospito.

We learned a few days ago that Cospito cannot “keep the photos of his deceased parents in his cell because their identity had to be formally recognised by the mayor of his home town”. It is strange to imagine that to be scandalised by it, one would have to sympathize with anarcho-insurrectionalism. It is even stranger that solidarity with the Cospito rebellion lies with anarcho-insurrectionists, whatever that label means.

It is likely that Cospito’s end will come long before the Court’s sentence. I have tried to summarise. I will not even try to comment: one cannot comment on excess. Justice is excessive and delights in being so, its administrators have first and last names but they are unknown, the uniforms are enough. They are beings of grotesque irrationality and wickedness. May heaven protect them. They called their investigation “Scripta manent”. The Romans knew that “Deus dementat quos perdere vult”. Translation in my own way: God takes away the reason of those who are desirous to destroy their neighbours.

For weeks, solidarity actions have been multiplying throughout Italy. Intellectuals, jurists, including a former prosecutor, showed their support. As Wu Ming writes:

Facing the machine, Cospito has only his body.
But we would not want to see that body in a photo like Boby Sands.
We want Alfredo to live.
We do not want martyrdom, but the end of 41bis and a new awareness of the justice and prison system in Italy.


This entry was posted in News blog and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.