Police, protesters clash in Rome during French president visit

ROME Wed Nov 20, 2013 12:33pm EST

1 of 2. A demonstrator shouts in front of riot police in downtown Rome, during a protest against the construction of high-speed train line TAV, which will link Turin in northern Italy to Lyon in France, November 20, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Alessandro Bianchi

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ROME (Reuters) - Protesters threw smoke bombs and clashed with police in central Rome on Wednesday while Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta met French President Francois Hollande in the capital.

The scuffles broke out around the Campo de' Fiori central square where people had gathered to protest against a high-speed rail link being built between France and northern Italy.

Baton-wielding police pushed a group of shouting protesters down a narrow street that leads away from the square. Demonstrators threw bottles and flares at the police.

The Italian government says the rail line, which will almost halve the time of a journey between Paris and Milan to four hours, is vital to strengthen transport links between Italy and the rest of the continent.

But opponents to the plan worry about its environmental impact and question whether Italy should be spending billions on such a large-scale project when they could be using it to help families struggling in a recession which has lasted more than two years.

Protesters also targeted offices of Letta's Democratic Party (PD), hurling firecrackers and chanting "Out Out" after Italian Justice Minister Anna Maria Cancellieri earlier survived a no-confidence vote in parliament.

Cancellieri has faced calls to resign in recent weeks over accusations that she used her influence to get the daughter of a disgraced insurance magnate out of prison. She defended herself in parliament against the claims on Wednesday.

(Reporting By Catherine Hornby and Alessandro Bianchi; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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Comments (1)
Mylena wrote:
Always were a wall between italian citizens and french citizens. To me, sounds very friendly go to italy and enjoy the country like a visistor. my experience in France was very hard. if you do not know how to speak French clearly they will make you feel like crap. So, with this small comment i wanted to said : French and Italian are different!!!!!

Nov 20, 2013 2:09pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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