Monday, August 4, 2008
soldiers begin patrolling Italy's cities
LOOKS LIKE WHILE BERLUSCONI WAS AWAY, THE LIBERAL PM LET CRIMINALS--AND ESPECIALLY CRIMINAL ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS(ALIENS) HAVE THE RUN OF THE COUNTRY. SOMETIMES YOU NEED TO KICK SOME ASS]
Hundreds of armed soldiers begin patrolling Italy's cities to cut crime but critics say it will scare off tourists
Hundreds of troops have begun patrolling the streets of Italian cities as part of a law and order clampdown - but critics claim the sign of gun-toting soldiers will deter tourists.
Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has ordered the unorthodox use of the armed forces which will see 3,000 troops deployed around the country including Rome, Milan, Turin and Palermo.
Their tasks will include patrolling streets with police and helping to protect "sensitive" sites, ranging from Milan's Duomo cathedral to embassies and consulates
They will also guard detention centres processing illegal immigrants, blamed by the government for much of Italy's crime.
Visitors to the city will not see them outside iconic monuments like the Colosseum or Pantheon, after Rome's mayor complained that gun-toting soldiers could scare off tourists.
Some critics said the move would do little, if anything, to reduce crime, while others objected to the use of the military for policing at home.
Achille Serra, a former Rome prefect with a long background in law enforcement, called the deployment "useless and ineffective".
"I'll remind you that we're not in Beirut. And I'm wondering what a soldier will do to address a burglary or mugging," he said in a newspaper interview.
Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has been accused of trying to "militarize" city centre by putting soldiers on the streets.
Italy's military is currently deployed overseas in places like Beirut and Afghanistan. But the armed forces have taken on domestic security roles in the past, including to address mafia violence in Sicily after the 1992 killings of anti-Mafia magistrates Paolo Borsellino and Giovanni Falcone.
The former head of the army, General Mario Buscemi, said: "In 1992, just for Sicily, there were 20,000 men. Today for all of Italy there are 3,000.
"It's clear that this time their support to the police forces will be less, basically symbolic," he told La Repubblica daily.
As part of his anti-crime initiative, Berlusconi's government pushed legislation through parliament last month aimed at stemming illegal immigration. It also declared a state of emergency that gave police and local authorities added powers to tackle immigration-related problems.
But the government's handling of immigration and minority issues - particularly regarding Roma people - has sparked criticism from the Vatican, human rights groups and some European bodies over fears it could stoke xenophobia