The anarchist prisoner Alfredo Cospito has now been on hunger strike for 154 days to protest against the solitary confinement conditions under Italian Article 41bis. In the meantime, his health has deteriorated massively and yesterday an acute heart crisis was reported. The Italian state deliberately prefers to let the political prisoner die rather than relax the inhuman prison conditions.
Complete isolation from other prisoners, no leisure activities, yard exercise with extreme restrictions, only sporadic minimal contact with family and obstruction of communication with lawyers: The conditions of Article 41bis, to which around 750 people are subjected in Italian prisons, are rightly called White Torture and can also be arbitrarily further aggravated by the prisons. In 2007, the European Court of Human Rights found that the article was in clear breach of the European Convention on Human Rights. For years, the 41bis regime has also been systematically used against political prisoners to wear them down and break them.
Alfredo Cospito, who had already been serving a ten-year prison sentence since 2012 for an attack on nuclear company boss Roberto Adinolfi, was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of early release in 2020 for two explosive devices. In May 2022, he was placed in solitary confinement under Article 41bis by order of the Ministry of Justice, and all lawyer interventions were unsuccessful. On 20 October 2022, Cospito began a hunger strike for the abolition of Article 41bis and announced that he would continue it until death if necessary. Several prisoners temporarily went on solidarity hunger strikes, and a strong protest movement formed in Italy against the isolation torture and in support of Alfredo Cospito.
For months now, the anarchist’s health has continued to deteriorate, which is why he was transferred from the Sardinian prison in Sassari to the more medically equipped prison in Milan. In the meantime, the permanent physical damage and signs of paralysis are increasing, and the current heart crisis shows that it is a matter of life or death.
Nevertheless, so far the government and the judiciary have refused any relaxation of the solitary confinement conditions. Two important court dates are again scheduled for Friday: First, the Surveillance Court in Milan is considering the request of Cospito’s lawyer to grant him suspended sentences for health reasons in the form of house arrest with his family. On the other hand, the Surveillance Court in Sassari is simultaneously deciding on an earlier application for a suspended sentence.
“The fact that the government and judiciary in Italy persist in the practice of torture under Article 41bis is a scandal. The systematic isolation torture to which 750 people are subjected in Italian prisons must be stopped immediately! Alfredo Cospito must be released immediately. We stand in solidarity with his hunger strike and demand the abolition of Article 41bis. Freedom for all political prisoners!”
– Anja Sommerfeld from the federal board of Red Aid e. V.
This article was first published in Rote Hilfe E. V. Online
Image: Guy Smallman