A structure without any internal control, in which that "consolidated system" over the years of beatings and torture on 16 and 17 year olds with problematic histories, including hardship, crimes and drug addiction, had taken hold undisturbed, at least until a few months ago with the arrival of the new director at the Beccaria juvenile prison.

It is the disturbing scenario that comes to the surface not only from the documents of the Milan Prosecutor's Office, in the investigation that led to 13 prison officers and the suspension of eight colleagues , but from the very words of those arrested in the first interrogations.

The "method of violence" implemented at Beccaria, write the deputy Letizia Mannella and the prosecutors Rosaria Stagnaro and Cecilia Vassena, «had its main foundation in the omissive and malicious insolvency contribution of a series of top figures ». Among these is mentioned the former commander of the Penitentiary Police Francesco Ferone , suspended yesterday and accused of false reports, "who knowingly facilitated and strengthened the criminal determinations of his subordinates ".

For this reason, the investigations, conducted by the Flying Squad and by the Penitentiary Police themselves, continue to ascertain, again from testimonies and reports, any other cases of abuse, but also suspected cover-ups and misdirections in the institution in relation to the actions of the officers.

Meanwhile, five out of six arrested (one made use of the right not to respond and the others will be heard in the next few days), questioned by investigating judge Stefania Donadeo, said they felt " abandoned to themselves, without hierarchical controls and even help from part of the structure, incapable of managing situations ".

They said they found themselves having to deal with young people detained without adequate training, themselves young, between 25 and 35 years old, first appointed and with little experience . No help from superiors or other figures. In some cases they would have saved lives by intervening in suicide attempts or fires that broke out. In others, however, their hand would fly out as a violent reaction.

In the documents, in the meantime, there is an exchange of emails from January 2023 between the mother of an inmate and the then acting director Maria Vittoria Menenti . The mother, after seeing her son with " signs of beatings on his face " on a video call, reported the episode to the management. Eight days later Menenti responded to her reassuring her "on the adoption of the procedures envisaged in the specific case".

The same boy, recording the attack suffered on 22 December 2022 by three officers, declared that "while he was lying on the ground in front of the station chief's office, still handcuffed and bleeding on the face", the then director had intervened "who ordered his assistants to remove his handcuffs and ordered him to be sent to the infirmary." The officers, the prosecutors write, " interrupted the violent beating only for the arrival of the director ", who "saw the prisoner on the ground bleeding".

Last December the new director Claudio Ferrari took office, who, according to the intercepted words of the suspects, would no longer give "protection" to the agents . Last March, when the leaders had decided to acquire the internal cameras, there was concern among the police, because " the images are truly disastrous (...) Not just slaps, kicks, punches... the one on the ground " . In another overheard dialogue, an officer told a colleague, now in prison, to put "a little ice" on his hand. The other shortly before had told her that he had "baptized" a boy who was "a bully", that he had hit him so hard that he hurt himself . Other inspections had already highlighted the " lack of vigilance on the part of the staff regarding multiple violent episodes, including those of a sexual nature, which occurred among the inmates ".


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