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35 YEARS OF SQUATTING YET NOT ACTING AS OWNERS
With long, hasty strides the Italian Justice continues its course. Before we could digeste the first course, with Swiss speed we have been served the second one on a silver plate.
On January 31, 2013, 90 days after the last hearing, the Milan Court of Appeal past a bitter judgment, rejecting the claims of Cox18, Calusca and Primo Moroni Archive about the use of the space located in Milano, Conchetta st., N. 18, Milan.
In a nutshell, we lost one more time
The reasoning of the court is concise and clear: we have no right to the place (of which we demanded usucaption) not because the elapsed time doesn't exceed 20 years, not because our squatting has no historical continuity, but because during all this time, we have not acted "utri dominus", i.e. as owners.
What does it mean to act like owners, the sentence does not say and, in a way, we don't mind to be left in doubt. The judge, however, gives three examples to explain the reason which led him to the sentence, examples which we deem offensive to the history of Cox18 and to common sense.
The first relates to the way we made use of the estate: we did not take advantage of it (the estate in question) "in a manner consistent with its quality and destination (its purpose being eminently Housing)" that is we did not live in it. The judge seems to ignore the fact that the premises occupied by our collectives at one time housed a restaurant, a space where, notoriously, people eat but do not live, and that in 1989 the housing section (three upper floors) were demolished by order of the City of Milan, which also provided different accommodations to the inhabitants.
The second reason concerns inadequacy: we did not collect "eventual gains deriving from it." Here the talk is strictly about money, otherwise we could list many gains. In fact, it is true, we have never earned money; we must have written it somewhere.
The third reason refers to neglect: we did not take care of the ordinary and extraordinary maintenance. Those who know how Conchetta 18 estate was before (the squatting) and how it is today, are aware of how much time and energy we put into the maintenance of the estate, the building and the surrounding area, up to the latest "Primo Moroni Gardens". Who does not know it either was not here or does not want to inquire.
Yet all this was amply documented, but no one bothered to read the papers we have provided, to listen to the witnesses we have summoned, therefore allowing the historical truth to be tarnished by a legal pre-judice.
Does the legal owner of a garden sleep there? Does he impose a tax on the perfumes which emanate from it? As for the owner of an archive, does he expect commercial gains from the reading of books and magazines? Or does he upkeep the premises with extraordinarily care? Is this what happens in the Parco Sempione and Sormani libraries?
This trial had been brought by the municipal council headed by Letizia Moratti, and continued by the next one, which boast a totally opposite policy concerning communal real estates.
The sentence, drawn widely by "copy and paste", cites the reasons given by the City solicitor; well, there is no sign of any discontinuity, in form or in substance, between the reasons given by the center-right and the center-left city government.
After injury, insult. The municipality, in the person of Paul Limonta, "director of the Mayor relations with the city," said: "As for vacant real estates, we propose participation in tenders assignments (....). But the collectives told us that they do not want to discuss the tenders and the dialogue stops here", This sounds pretty ridiculous, since we, en passant, pointed out the fact that our space is not empty, hence the resolution and the tenders do not concern us. As for the dialogue: during the proceeding the City requested a postponement to the judge for a deal to be implemented. It is a year that we wonder what on earth they had in mind, since they have always failed to inform us.
This judgment is intolerable for those, like us, accustomed to reason about facts, and to fight privileges. It is legally but also politically unbearable, because It is based on judgments regarding alleged behaviour or even worse, attitudes and intentions rather than on the substance of what happens in reality.
But that's not the end of the story. Having digested the second course we shall seize the fork firmly, waiting for the sweet. We'll appeal on points of law and, above all, we shall not stop being ourselves and doing it in Conchetta, 18 street.
HERE WE ARE, HERE WE SHALL STAY