A SOAS student has languished in Pre-Trial detention in Frankfurt since 10:30am Wednesday 18th of March awaiting trial. According to German law, backed by European treaties and any sense of common decency, he is innocent until proven guilty. Therefore he should be free on bail. The law accords protesters a fair and free trial and due procedure to protect civil liberties. In Frankfurt we have seen the suspension of these liberties, with detention being used as a punitive tool rather than a means of investigation. He was arrested while sitting with friends, in central Frankfurt. The police used 20-30 officers and excessive force to carry out the arrest, despite him offering no resistance. The German legal system has chosen to scapegoat him, in order to hide the crimes of the European Central Bank.
His name is Federico Annibale, a much loved masters student here at SOAS and an active member of the students union. Federico is one of us, and he could be ANY of us. As an Italian student he knows all too well the affects of austerity on Eurozone countries and Britain. He travelled to Frankfurt with many others like him to challenge such economic injustice and we should not shy away from the politics of his arrest.
His arrest was politically motivated, and his extended detention is a tool of intimidation. This breach of human rights is a testament to the complicity of state security in neoliberalism. The ECB is at the epicentre of this, one of the three institutions (alongside the IMF and European Commision) which orchestrates the troika’s policy of crippling debt. On March 18th 2015 the ECB attempted to open its new headquarters in Frankfurt. A dizzying 1.3 billion euros was spent on a 185-meter-high fortress-like twin tower building, surrounded by a fence and castle moat. It was supposed to be a grand opening gala with several European state leaders and the European finance oligarchy present. On that day thousands converged from all over Europe to show that there is nothing to celebrate about austerity and impoverishment.
In spite of marked police violence, demonstrators exercised their right to take to the streets and blockade the event. In a supposed “financial capital”, activists reclaimed the city and asserted a new collective narrative beyond the violence of austerity and the police state. Set against this backdrop, Federico’s unwarranted detention is a petulant attempt at undermining the overwhelming opposition to today’s financial order.
We call for Federico’s immediate release and for due process to be followed in his judicial proceedings..