Italy Adopts New Anti-Terrorism Legislation

On 1 August 2005, a new anti-terrorist law came into force in Italy only five days after the government had presented the decree that the Council of Ministers (the Italian cabinet) had approved on 22 July 2005. It includes a string of anti-terrorist measures in response to the terrorist attacks in the London public transport services on 7 July. The decree followed a heated public debate which often strayed into racism, as a result of the threat issued by Al Qaida against Italy in relation to its presence in Iraq and of the increasingly intolerant discourse of MPs and ministers from the Lega Nord. New terrorist offences are introduced, such as the recruitment or training of terrorists or the transmission of information that may be used to commit violent acts for terrorist purposes, and behaviour that has terrorist goals (increasing sanctions for "apologia", or justification). The period during which suspects can be interrogated without a lawyer being present is increased from 12 to 24 hours (the limit for such interrogations was reduced to 12 hours after the death of Pinelli, an anarchist suspected of involvement in the Piazza Fontana bombing which was later found to have been the work of right wingers, who died after falling out of a window during an interrogation in 1969). Also the creation of inter-force investigation units on order from the interior minister is envisaged for investigations into terrorist offences. The requirement of prior authorisation is introduced for telecommunication service providers (a license subject to the establishment of procedures to comply with data retention and user monitoring provisions), people "importing, trading, transporting and using" detonators and explosives or instructing people in their use (with possible sentences of between one and six years), and flight activity over Italian territory. The exclusive power of the judicial police to exercise some of its functions is circumscribed in scope and extended to other bodies (such as the prison police in urgent cases involving detainees). Sanctions for possession, use and manufacturing of false documents are increased, and possession of a false document will also become a circumstance that allows immediate detention, as it is to be considered evidence of the likelihood of a suspect fleeing.