Italians protesting against French train link clash with police
Dozens were injured in clashes with Italian police on Monday after a demonstration against a high-speed train line linking Italy to France turned violent. The protesters claimed the planned tunnel would damage the environment.
Reuters - Nearly 30 people were injured on Monday when demonstrators opposed to a high-speed train line linking Italy to France clashed with Italian police in an Alpine valley.
Police used teargas to disperse dozens of protesters who had tried to prevent the construction through the Susa valley, near Turin, of a tunnel they say would damage the environment.
Police in Turin said 25 officers were injured as protesters threw stones and firecrackers before being dispersed. Demonstrators said four activists had been beaten.
France and Italy signed a deal in 2001 to build the high-speed line and open a more modern, faster transport link between two of Europe’s biggest economies.
Villagers of the Val di Susa have strongly opposed the project, which is defended by the government and the local administration.
The movement opposing high-speed rail has grown beyond the Val di Susa, winning support from a range of groups, from anarchists to Catholics.
Italian Interior Minister Roberto Maroni said in an interview published at the weekend that work must start by June 30 or the country risked losing hundreds of million euros in contributions from the European Union.
“The state cannot surrender to a group of demonstrators. The construction works will start and go ahead,” Infrastructure Minister Altero Matteoli said on Tuesday on the sidelines of a conference.
The cost of the project has been estimated at 15 billion euros (21 billion dollars).
“The majority of residents of the valley are against this project which damages the environment and is an absurdity for public finances”, Paolo Ferrero, secretary of Italy’s Communist Refoundation Party said in a statement.
Other protests have been announced on the Internet, with a demonstration due in Rome on Tuesday.