Italy – the poisoned fruits of the war on drugs

27 January 2011

A General of the Carabinieri sentenced to 14 years’ imprisonment for promoting drug trafficking with the aim to boast “spectacular” seizures

In December 2010, the Court of Milan published the grounds of the sentence of 14 years' imprisonment that was imposed on Giampaolo Ganzer, General of the Carabinieri (body of the Italian Army that has functions both as a military police and state police), and head of the Raggruppamento Operativo Speciale (special Operational Group), following a trial which ended in July 2010. The Public Prosecutor had asked for nothing short of 27 years' imprisonment.

This heavy sentence was based on the fact that, in that particular case, "drug traffic, instead of being fought, had been encouraged and promoted". During the trial, the General defended himself on the basis of the antidrug law that authorizes "activities under cover". However, the sentence clearly stated that he was responsible for promoting drug imports from foreign countries. Such actions resulted in covering and facilitating the dealings of some drug lords, hence guaranteeing their complete immunity. Other officers of the Carabinieri have also received heavy sentences for similar allegations, and a judge is currently under trial.

Italian media, including the daily paper Corriere Della Sera, have given considerable publicity to this scandal and have asked for Granzer's resignation. For now, the General is still in activity, on the pretext that the sentence comes from a first level court, and that one should therefore wait for a final decision at a court of appeals.