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Italian minister survives G8 riot vote

Police lead away a man injured in the riots in Genoa  

ROME, Italy -- A senior member of the Italian government has survived a vote of no confidence over police handling of the violence that marred the Group of Eight summit in Genoa.

The censure vote against Interior Minister Claudio Scajola was called after police shot dead one demonstrator and were unable to quell riots that caused millions of dollars of damage to the host city.

Allegations of police brutality emerged from the riots during the July 20-22 summit from home and abroad.

The Interior Ministry and police are conducting internal investigations and the lower house of Parliament on Tuesday agreed to appoint a fact-finding commission.

Protesters converge on Frankfurt  
graphic G8 Summit: Genoa 2001

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The centre-left opposition, which wants Scajola to resign, had been hoping for a panel with wider powers.

Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's government has a comfortable majority in the Senate and the vote against Scajola was expected to fail. The vote was 180-106, with one senator abstaining.

Protesters in Britain, France, Germany, the United States and Italy claim they were beaten by police and denied access to their consulates after their arrests.

Amnesty International has called for an independent investigation.

Meanwhile, international journalists' bodies and media watchdogs have expressed grave concern over Italian prosecutors' efforts to seize journalists' photographs and video footage of the Genoa protests.

They said the orders compelling Italian and foreign media organisations, including Reuters, the Associated and Agence France Presse, to hand over the material taken at the demonstrations put the lives of journalists at risk.

"This is really pretty outrageous," Aidan White, president of the Brussels-based International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and European Federation of Journalists, told Reuters.

"As these confrontations become sharper, it means that journalists are going to be more and more identified as part of the problem for protesters rather than professionals trying to record what is going on," he said. "And that is really dangerous."

Genoa state prosecutors have issued a series of orders to media organisations to hand over photos and TV cassettes of the demonstrations in the city during the summit.

Lawyers say media groups have to comply with the orders from the state prosecutors as Italian law does not allow for appeals and metes out strict penalties for non-compliance.

Paolo Serventi Longhi, general secretary of Italy's National Press Federation, said there was no question that under Italian law media material could be seized.

Police shot dead a young Italian protester, 23-year-old Carlo Giuliani, during the riots and more than 230 people were injured, among them demonstrators, members of the security forces and journalists.

More than 280 people were arrested, many of them foreign nationals.

• G8 summit
• Italian police

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