Alfredo Cospito ends his hunger strike

Press release after the end of Alfredo Cospito’s hunger strike

Flavio Rossi Albertini, Alfredo Cospito’s lawyer (19/04/2023)

It was on October 20th, 2022, when Alfredo Cospito, during his first hearing in which he had the right to participate, after his transfer to the 41bis isolation regime earlier on May 4th of the same year, that he declared his intention to begin a hunger strike.

The reasons for the protest resided in the harsh criticism made by the anarchist against the 41bis regime and his life imprisonment, without the possibility of any reduction in the sentence.

Since October 20th, 181 days have elapsed, in which Cospito, through an increasingly emaciated and weak body, has revealed what the special detention regime means exactly: illogical privations imposed on prisoners, harsh limitations devoid of any legitimate purpose, sensory deprivation, an Orwellian environment in which one is continuously watched and listened to by cameras and microphones. And not only: the impossibility to read, study and evolve culturally, as well as to receive books and magazines from outside, even when they are sent by the same publishers; elderly prisoners who are prevented for decades from embracing, and not even touching their children, spouses, siblings …

Thanks to Cospito’s protest, to the mobilisations throughout the world of varied extra-parliamentary political activists, to the anarchist movement, to intellectuals who have positioned themselves in support of the reasons for the protest, to the world of the media that has allowed these uncomfortable issues to reach people’s homes, millions of people, including many belonging to younger generations, have understood the incompatibility of 41bis with the principles of humane punishment and, therefore, with the Italian Constitution born of the anti-fascist struggle.

Thanks to Cospito’s story, 41bis is less and less tolerated by a public opinion that in recent months has been called upon to play an active role that would overcome the common indifference to the Other.

To this immediate result, it is necessary to add another: the fact that the appeal proposed by the lawyer Antonella Mascia from Strasbourg and by myself to the European Court of Human Rights, which had as its object, precisely, the specific penitentiary regime of article 41-bis of the Italian Penal Code, has been admitted for judgement.

The appeal, in which the serious violations of the European Convention on Human Rights were denounced, will be evaluated in the next two or three years (normal times for a sentence) and could represent the legal key to eliminate the inhuman instrument that is 41bis, as has happened with unconditional life imprisonment.

Last but not least, we must highlight the objective victory achieved with yesterday’s decision of April 18, 2023, by the Constitutional Court which, as can be read in the official statement, has not simply decided on the fate of the anarchist prisoner, but has made a declaration on the unconstitutionality of the prohibition to apply any type of mitigation, in the case of repeated recidivism, for all crimes whose maximum penalty is fixed and provides exclusively for life imprisonment.

In conclusion, it can be said that the struggle initiated by Cospito has achieved the predetermined objectives. The waiting times for the decision of the ECHR, unlike those of the Constitutional Court, which are much more limited, are not compatible with a hunger strike, although it is worth waiting for the Strasbourg decision.

Thus, Alfredo Cospito, after 180 days of fasting and having put his own life in danger, having lost 50 kilograms and compromising his motor functions as a result of damage to his peripheral nervous system, on April 19, 2023, has decided to put an end to the hunger strike.

In making this decision, Alfredo Cospito thanks everyone who has made this very tenacious and unusual form of protest possible.

(A este lado del Mediterráneo/

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