“They left indelible marks on me, I have a hole where they beat me, in correspondence with the wound of the heart operation. I can’t breathe anymore. I’m ‘nguaiat“. To speak to TPI is Vincenzo Cacace, a former inmate of the prison of Santa Maria Capua Vetere who tells outright everything that he experienced that April 6, 2020, when chaos broke out in the detention facility. The published images from the newspaper Domani, and which resume the terrible violence against the detainees, are now viral and have sparked controversy also on the political level.
One case – that of the prison in Santa Maria Capua Vetere – which has become the center of the investigation by the public prosecutor of the same name 52 precautionary measures. The investigation was launched following reports by some inmates of violence against them as a “punishment” for the revolt that broke out on April 6, 2020 following some cases of positive Covid in prison. Among them also Vincenzo Cacace, already in a wheelchair at the time of the violence suffered. One hundred and forty-six counts of four people. A set of crimes ranging from abuse of power to torture.
Cacace says he spent almost 29 years in prison, for crimes ranging from drug dealing to criminal association. His version of events will, of course, have to be verified by investigations.
Do you remember how the violence broke out?
When Covid broke out, they warned us that we would no longer be able to have talks with family members. So we organized a small protest, a beating (ritual which consists in hitting the bars with metal objects to make noise) and that’s it. They promised us they wouldn’t touch us. We put cots behind bars, then we stopped. After an hour they threw us out of the cells and ruined us.
What do you mean?
The slaughter has begun. I had recently operated on my heart, an open heart surgery. At the beginning the inspector and the director gave orders, the first to give the batons were they.
And what orders did they give?
Accirl‘. (kill them).
How did they affect you?
With the batons, the rubber ones. They destroyed us. I, after months, still have the marks on me.
How long did it take to come out?
Why didn’t he report?
I was afraid for my friends in prison, for my family, I was afraid that if I denounced they would do something to them, I had no evidence, it was my word against theirs.
Didn’t they think about the cameras filming them?
They turned off the ones below, but they forgot the ones above. A pin warned me about it, but I didn’t believe him. Instead he was telling the truth. He was good, he too took the batons.
Was there no one saying “what are you doing”?
No. And I want to say one thing: they didn’t look good to me.
What do you mean?
I am an old cocaine user, I understand immediately when someone uses drugs, they gave me the impression that they were under the influence of drugs. They had wild eyes. They were possessed.
Did the other inmates not react?
Nobody, they called Mom. There were 300 of them (the guards). Then came the squad in riot gear. They began to say: “we took prison in hand, now I know your f ** k, we kill you all”.
How long did it all last?
Almost 5 hours. In the meantime they took a break and then started again.
Nobody medicated you then?
They haven’t thought of it at all. One boy also had a head injury.
What happened in the following months?
There were small veiled threats, they went around like the bosses, with their heads raised, commanded them. I had closed in on myself, I was hard, I held the blows, I was silent.
How many years have you been in prison?
Almost 29, for drugs, conspiracy and other crimes. I paid my sentence, but not with my skin. I was wrong but it’s not like I have to pay with my life.
How many years have you been detained at the Smcv prison?
Five and a half years, almost six.
Had something similar happened before?
No, but it is a prison where you cannot stay. The fact that there were also high-ranking people makes me think that drugs were circulating.
Will he testify if they ask him?
I’m not afraid of anyone, I’ll testify if they call me. There will be other people who will speak. I have been to various prisons, but I have never experienced such scenes. The truth is that certain things you do not forget, I take Valium to calm down, this experience I will not forget. I have anxiety, panic attacks. They destroyed me. I have gained weight, now I am one and a half tons in the chair.
The Ministry of Justice has ordered the immediate suspension for all 52 suspects, including officials and agents of the Penitentiary Police, involved in the investigation into the violent in the prison of Santa Maria Capua Vetere. Minister Marta Cartabia asked for more information on the entire chain of responsibilities and a report on the other institutions as well.