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Italy’s high court upholds tough prison regime for militant

Italy’s high court on Friday reaffirmed a strict prison regime for an Italian left-wing militant whose cause has been taken up by anarchist groups in several countries that have staged attacks on Italian diplomatic missions.

The Court of Cassation rejected an appeal by lawyers for Alfredo Cospito, who has been on a hunger strike since October to protest the prison regime reserved for terrorists and mafia bosses, according to LaPresse news agency and RAI state television. Cospito, 55, is serving a 10-year sentence for shooting in the leg an energy executive for a state-controlled company and 20 years for a series of dynamite attacks in Italy.

An appeals court in Turin last spring toughened his prison conditions to include solitary confinement except for one hour a day, and a strict limit on family visits. The regime is imposed on prisoners who are considered to pose a danger even from inside prison.

After a tribunal reaffirmed the decision in December, there were more than a dozen attacks on Italian diplomatic interests abroad that have been claimed by or linked to anarchist groups acting in solidarity with Cospito.

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Three nuns watch at a banner in solidarity with Alfredo Cospito being displayed in front of the Italian Cassation Court in Rome, on Feb. 24, 2023, while the case of anarchist Alfredo Cospito, who has been on a hunger strike since October to protest a strict prison regime reserved for terrorists and mafiosi, is being discussed.

Three nuns watch at a banner in solidarity with Alfredo Cospito being displayed in front of the Italian Cassation Court in Rome, on Feb. 24, 2023, while the case of anarchist Alfredo Cospito, who has been on a hunger strike since October to protest a strict prison regime reserved for terrorists and mafiosi, is being discussed. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

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On Thursday, anarchists unfurled a banner down the front of Italy’s Altar of the Nation reading “Italy tortures” and similar banners were unfurled outside the Court of Cassation, amid a heavy police presence, as judges considered their verdict during eight hours of consultation Friday.

No injuries have been reported in the attacks, which have included torching of cars and vandalism on diplomatic targets in Argentina, Bolivia, Germany, Greece, Portugal, Spain and Switzerland. Those attacking the consulate in Spain wrote “freedom for Cospito” at the site.

The Interior Ministry has defended the use of the strict prison regime for Cospito, saying the attacks only reinforce the need for such measures.

In late January, Cospito was transferred from his prison in Sardinia to a facility in Milan that has a wing for specialized medical care, given the deterioration of his health from the hunger strike.

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