Vincenzo Vecchi’s story has been a long and complex legal odyssey that has crossed borders and jurisdictions between Italy and France. At the heart of the matter lies the G8 summit in Genoa, where Vecchi was sentenced in Italy to 11 years and 6 months in prison for devastation and looting. His flight to France in 2012 triggered a series of legal events leading to a crucial question: will France grant Vecchi’s extradition to Italy?
Vincenzo Vecchi’s Case
Vincenzo Vecchi is a well-known activist in the “no global” movement. In 2012, after being convicted in Italy for his involvement in the 2001 G8 protests in Genoa, he fled to France. The primary charge against him was “devastation and looting,” a crime against property dating back to Italy’s penal code of 1930.
The Italian Supreme Court (Cassazione) issued a final sentence of 11 years and 6 months in prison for Vecchi in 2012, sparking a series of legal events involving both countries.
France Rejects Extradition
France has rejected Vecchi’s extradition request from Italy for the third time. The judges in Lyon declared that the European arrest warrant issued against Vecchi is not applicable in France and that the sentence imposed in Italy was “disproportionate” to his conduct.
The crucial motivation behind the French judges’ decision was that Vecchi, during his years in France, had built a life with relationships, family, and active participation in the community. Therefore, extraditing him would have been a “disproportionate affront” to his rights.
Context of the Genoa G8
Vecchi’s legal saga is closely tied to one of the most controversial moments in Italian history, the G8 summit in Genoa. During that summit, there were arrests of protesters, violence by law enforcement, and the death of Carlo Giuliani.
Vecchi is the last of the so-called “black bloc” activists still at large, and his story is one of the most complex cases in the “trial of the 25,” initially involving ten protesters sentenced to nearly 100 years in prison.
The Crime of Devastation and Looting
The primary offense for which Vecchi was convicted is “devastation and looting,” a crime against property specified in Article 419 of the Italian penal code. Despite being a property crime, it dates back to Italy’s penal code of 1930 and was included in offenses against public order during the fascist era. The prescribed penalty ranges from eight to 15 years in prison, with an increase if the acts occur during protests.
Conflict with France
The legal dispute between Italy and France over Vecchi’s extradition has been long and complex. French judges contested the European arrest warrant and the nature of the Italian conviction. They emphasized the absence of a similar offense in the French legal system and the disproportionate nature of the penalty imposed.
France’s decision raised broader questions about the extraditing state’s ability to assess not only the formal extradition request but also the merits of the conviction.
The Decision of the French Supreme Court (Cassation)
The Italian Supreme Court sought the opinion of the Court of Justice of the European Union on the possibility of intervening in the merits of European arrest warrants, resulting in a response that influenced the final decision. On November 29, 2022, the French Supreme Court (Cassation) annulled the decision of the Angers Court of Appeals, referring the case to a new Court of Appeals in Lyon.
In France, Vecchi’s case mobilized intellectuals and activists opposed to extradition, achieving the desired outcome: the judges in Lyon confirmed the rejection of extradition, allowing Vecchi to remain in France as a free person, far from the shadows of Genoa.
Vincenzo Vecchi’s long and complex legal battle has raised significant questions about cross-border justice and the proportionality of sentences. His story will remain a significant chapter in the history of social movements and European justice.