Fifty-two prison officers in Italy have been suspended for their alleged involvement in beatings of inmates who had protested the lack of face masks and virus tests during the peak of Italyâ€™s pandemic last year.
Surveillance videos, published by the newspaper Il Domani, show club-wielding officers beating, kicking and punching prisoners in a holding room and as they came up and down a staircase.
Some of the prisoners at the Santa Maria Capua Vetere prison in Naples were struck repeatedly while on the floor, bleeding, or as they walked with their hands behind their bowed heads.
None was seen resisting or trying to fight back.
Italyâ€™s justice ministry said on Wednesday 52 officers and supervisors had been suspended, pending a criminal investigation into the events of April 6, 2020.
Justice Minister Marta Cartabia ordered a full internal investigation into what transpired.
She called the episode a betrayal of the Italian constitution, â€œan offense and an outrage to the dignity of prisoners,â€ as well as to officers who do their jobs well.
The public prosecutor’s office opened an investigation last year after complaints of violence by prison officers following a protest movement triggered by the announcement of a positive case of COVID-19 among prisoners.
The investigation is targeting more than 110 people in total.
These include the head of the prison police, two commissioners and three inspectors. The regional director of the prison administration has been suspended.