Environment Magazine

Italy: NO TAV Prisoners Claim Responsibility for Rail Sabotage in Court, Reject “Terror” Label

Posted on the 08 October 2014 by Earth First! Newswire @efjournal

Marcia NoTavEarth First! Newswire Editor’s Note: The campaign against the building of the Turin-Lyon high speed rail link has been running for 20+ years and regularly produces new arrests as the Italian State tries to suppress resistance. Chiara Zenobi, Niccolò Blasi, Claudio Alberto and Mattia Zanotti were arrested on December 9, 2013, and accused of committing an act of sabotage occurred in May 2013 against the high speed railway (TAV) construction yard of Chiomonte, Val Susa. The charges pressed against them are heavy: attack with purposes of terrorism carried out with lethal and explosive devices, possession of war weapons, damages. Below is an account of their statements to the court.

from marcerie and Velen(A) / translated by Act for Freedom Now

Turin, 24th September 2014

From comrades who were in court we learn that Chiara, Claudio, Mattia e Niccolò were smiling and in good spirits during the trial and with their heads held high they claimed their participation in the action of sabotage that took place in May 2013 at the TAV yard in Chiomonte. The comrades dismantled the accusations and theorems that prosecutors built up on a very different reality and rejected the label of ‘terrorism’ attached to practices that belong to the NO TAV resistance, thus getting rid of the jargon and semantics of repression and dominion.

Here are the comrades’ declarations to the court:


I knew Maddalena and Val Clarea before the TAV yard was erected there. In those woods I walked, slept, ate, sang, danced. In those places I experienced precious fragments of life together with friends who are no longer there and whom I carry in my heart.

To those places I went back many times in the course of the years.

In the daylight, in the night, in mornings and evenings; in summer, winter, autumn and spring. I’ve seen those places changing and trees falling down after being cut down to make room for barbed wire. I’ve seen the yard expanding and a piece of wood disappearing, headlights popping up and the army coming over to watch a desolate landscape from the same armoured vehicles that patrol the mountains in Afghanistan.

So I went back again in Val Clarea during the now famous night of May.

Too much was written and said on that night and it’s not up to me, nor is it my interest, to say how the action translates in the grammar of the penal code.

What I can say is that I was there on that night.

That I was not there with the intention of pursuing terror or even worse can be understood by any sensible person who has even a slight idea of the nature of the NO TAV struggle and of the ethical coordinates within which this struggle has been expressing its resistance for twenty years.

That I was there to demonstrate once again my radical hostility to that yard, and if possible to sabotage its functioning, I’m telling you myself.

And if we decided to speak today before the trial enter the tangled forest of phone tapping evidence and counter-evidence it is because we want to reaffirm a simple truth: the intercepted voices are ours.

Prosecutors built up a story on this.

A story where mobile phones become the evidence of the existence of a chain of command, even paramilitary planning, but the truth – as often happens – is much simpler and less bombastic.

A saying in Val Susa has added to the common baggage of the NO TAV struggle for years, and it guides the practical actions of disruption of the yard.

The saying goes: ‘we leave together and come back together’. Which means we go along together in this struggle. Together we leave and together we come back.

No one is left behind. This was the reason for mobile phones on that night, to this purpose were our voices used.

On the contrary to talk about leaders, organization charts, commandos and strategists means to want to cast the shadow of a world that doesn’t belong to us on that particular fact, and to twist our very way of being and conceiving common actions.

As far as I’m concerned, I leave to the enthusiast high speed speculators the sad privilege not to have scruples about others’ lives, and I also leave to them the cult of war, commando and profit at all costs.

We hang on the values of resistance, freedom, friendship and sharing, and from these values we’ll try to gain strength wherever the consequences of our choices lead us.



In the night between 13th and 14th May I took part in the sabotage of the yard in Maddalena, Chiomonte. Here is revealed the mystery.

I’m not surprised that while attempting to reconstruct the fact investigators use words such as ‘assault, terrorist attack, paramilitary groups, lethal weapons’. Those accustomed to live and defend a highly hierarchized society cannot understand what have been happening in Val Susa in recent years. In order to describe it, they draw from their culture full of bellicose words. It is not my intention to bother you with the reasons why I decided to commit myself to the struggle against the TAV or to explain what the defence of the valley means; I just want to point out that anything connected with war and the army disgusts me.

I understand the dismay of public opinion and its storytellers in the face of the reappearance of an illustrious unknown character, sabotage, after they did their best to bury it under tons of lies.

To the struggle against the high speed train goes the credit of having revised this practice, of having been able to choose when and how to use it and to have managed to make a difference between what’s right and what’s legal.

To the struggle against the high speed train goes the big responsibility of maintaining faith in the hopes that many exploited place in it and of making them taste the savour of revenge.

I take the liberty to send the charges back to the sender. We are accused of having acted to strike at people or at the very least of not taking care of their presence, as if we disregarded others’ lives. If there is someone who expresses such a disregard, they have to be found among the troops exporting peace and democracy all around the world, the same that patrol the yard in Maddalena with zeal and professionalism. As far as the charge of terrorism is concerned I’ve no intention of defending myself. Such a bold charge has been sufficiently dismantled by the solidarity we’ve been receiving since the day of our arrest. If behind this operation there was the attempt, not very well concealed, to put an end to the NO TAV struggle once and for all, I’d say it has miserably failed.



The reasons that led me to take part in the struggle in Val Susa are many; the reasons that led me to stay there and continue on this path are even more.

In the middle there is a trajectory of collective growth, public and private meetings, camping and demos, discussions and conflicts. In the middle there is life, everyday life, a life of early starts and sleepless nights, of dry throats on rocky slopes and frugal meals, of small commitments and big emotions.

In this trajectory those who struggle learned the precision of language, to call things for what they are and not according to a formal shell with which they are advertised, like a yard that was a blockhouse and now is becoming a fortress. Words that can give back the emotional content and the impact on one’s life caused by the choices of one’s enemy, the enemy who decided to be involved in this big work. Words dusted off from a lexicon that looked old and instead they are rediscovered in all their power and simplicity in describing one’s actions.

A sagacity of language that I realize not being so widespread in the surrounding world, as I read of improbable ‘commandos’, which according to some reconstruction also proposed by the press would have stormed the yard in the night of 13th May. A word as sad as ever, not only because of its reference to the action of commanding but also because of a certain mercenary hint, an unacceptable one, relating to those who are ready to do anything in order to achieve their goal.

On the contrary those who struggle learned to convey with intelligence the strong and impetuous passions provoked by the many blows taken, like when a friend lost an eye because of teargas or another one was dying.

As for me, Val Clarea has been a friend of mine since 2001, when we used to throw the soil back into the holes dug by bulldozers with bare hands as work proceeded in the yard.

I remember a song echoing between the tents of that year’s camping, one of the many invented on the tune of an old partisan song, just for fun and to give ourselves some courage. The first line went: ‘from the woods of Giaglione united we’ll come down ….’ In recent years these words have been followed by actions on many occasions, and so was it on that night of May, when someone decided to do it with determination, and I was among them. One of the voices behind a telephone is mine. But to linger on personal responsibility in order to praise it or blame it can’t give the idea of a collective feeling matured in the houses of so many families, in the valley and in cities, between a chat and a drink in a bar, in piazzas and streets, in cheerful moments and in critical ones. A feeling that expressed itself in one of the most shouted slogans after our arrest and which describes the real belonging of that action very well: ‘we all were behind those fences…’ A slogan that takes us straight back to a popular meeting held in Bussoleno in May2013, when the whole movement welcomed that action and called it sabotage.

And if we all were behind those fences, a bit of everyone supported us and gave us strength behind these bars. For this reason, even here, whatever the consequences of our actions are we won’t face them alone.



In this courtroom you can’t find the words to tell about that night in May.

You use the language of a society accustomed to armies, conquests and oppression.

Military and paramilitary attacks, indiscriminate violence and war weapons belong to the States and their adulators.

We didn’t throw our hearts beyond resignation.

We threw a grain of sand in the clogs of a progress whose only effect is the incessant destruction of the planet we live in.

I was there on that night and it is mine the female voice that was intercepted.

I went through a piece of my life along with all the men and women who have been opposing a devastating idea of the world with an irrevocable no for over twenty years. I’m proud of that and happy with that.

For updated addresses on these NO TAV prisoners and others, see the International section of the Earth First! Eco-Prisoner List.

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