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Italian Santo Daime juridical case resume and comment

Message sent by the italian daimsta Walter Menozzi (*) on May 16th 2006

“August 2004 – While coming back from Brazil I’ve been stopped with 27 liters of Santo Daime at Perugia Airport. The Santo Daime was sequestrated and a juridical case was opened. After that the chemical analyses showed a DMT presence in the beverage.
The case was given to the anti-Mafia team in Perugia of the Guardia di Finanza (GdF), a special police branch specialized in crimes about commerce and economical matters (including drug traffic).

29th of September, 2004 – the GdF team arrived at Casa Regina della Pace, the Santo Daime community in Assisi, and frisked some daimista’s houses finding and sequestering some other few liters of Daime. In the following months other perquisitions were realized in Rome, Trieste, Ovada (Alessandria), Milan. In Rome and Ovada the GdF found some other samples of Daime (very little quantity).

February 2005 – a Brazilian girl, fardada on Santo Daime, arrived in Milan to stay for a long period. She wrote us an email saying that she was carrying 2 liters of Daime from Brazil. Few days later the GdF arrived at her home, took the Daime and arrested her. We contacted her lawyer in order to send him all the documents for the juridical recognition, but he didn’t know us and remain suspicious. While the girl was in prison, the judge in Milan made her know that if she confessed she was guilty, she would be condemned to 1 year and a half with “condizionale” (this means out of prison) and she could exit immediately and go back to Brazil (probably without the permission to re-enter in Italy). Facing this option (confess to be guilty in order to exit immediately from the prison) she accepted and exited after having passed 3-4 weeks in San Vittore prison in Milan.

15th of March, 2005 – I was preparing my trip to Mozambique to leave the next day (I had to start a 10 months mission for the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs). I was in Reggio Emilia, my natal city, when the GdF of Perugia arrived to arrest me with the motivation: “escape danger”. The next day other 21 daimistas were arrested in Assisi, Ovada, Trieste, and Turin, including the Brazilian girl that had just been released from prison (she exited in the morning and the police arrived in the evening of the same day to re-arrest her…).
The crimes contested were pretty heavy: criminal association, international drug traffic, etc. A huge quantity of recorded phone calls and emails were produced by the GdF for the judge, but there was nothing inside demonstrating any illicit traffic or gain.
Among the huge quantity of documents presented by the GdF to the judge in Reggio Emilia (where I was arrested) there were also some chemical analysis of the Daime showing a DMT presence of 15% (two months later we received all the documents produced by the GdF, including 3 different chemical analysis dated February 2005 – so before the arrest – showing for all the samples of Santo Daime taken to the Cefluris members a presence of max 0.064% of DMT, while the samples taken to the psychologist in Rome present the 15% of DMT, probably an error but however these analysis were the only ones showed by the GdF to the Judge in Reggio Emilia).
After about 7-10 days in prison, the judge gave the domestic arrests to all the arrested people.

4th of April, 2005 – we had the first hearing at the local Court of Perugia following our case re-examination request to the judge. We presented a complete set of documents regarding religious, juridical (international), scientific aspects, about our activities and the destination of the contributions we were sending each year to IDA, including an official letter of WWF Brazil appositively written for the Italian consulate in Manaus (Amazonas). However the main argument of the Defense at this point was about the fact that the Santo Daime is not included in the list of the under-control substances for the Italian law, as confirmed by the ONU’s INCB letter.
The Court rejected our Defense arguments declaring that “the Santo Daime, being a mixture of two plants and not only one, is not a natural product but has to be considered like a laboratory preparation appositely containing DMT”. Following this hearing, 9 of the 22 arrested people (the ones that had personal property of the Daime sequestrated) had to remain at the domestic arrests, while however the other 13 were left free because there was no evidence of their involvement in the case.Following this rejection, our Defense made an appeal at the Supreme Court of Cassazione in Rome.

24th of June, 2005 – my lawyer called me to inform that the Supreme Court accepted to hear our arguments with a hearing in Rome for the 6th of October 2005.

7th of October, 2005 – we received the result of the hearing of the previous day: victory – the Supreme Court accepted our appeal and our arguments, declaring that the public persecutor didn’t demonstrate anything enough to arrest us, and so that the arrest and the rejection of local court were both annulled.
The Supreme Court re-sent the case to a new Court in Perugia to re-analyze it again.
Then we had to wait the written motivation of the Supreme Court to understand for which reason we got this very good result.

15th of December, 2005 – my lawyer called me to inform that the same day he had received the written motivation of the Supreme Court. The main points of the declaration concerned how it neeeded to be interpreted by the Italian law on drugs regarding the specific case of a substance made from natural plants not under-control but that contains an alkaloid under-control:
1. the Supreme Court declared that the public persecutor didn’t show how Ayahuasca/Santo Daime was prepared;
2. if the substance was a laboratory product containing DMT, it needed to be forbidden;
3. if the substance was a preparation that came from a “simple derivative process” of natural plants not under-control, it depended on wheter the preparation effects were product of the effects of the consumption of both the two original plants or not. This can be measured by the alkaloids quantity in the substance in relationship with the presence in both the original plants, in particular;
4. if the substance presents a clear “surplus” of alkaloids respect to the original plants and effects are very potentiated respect to the ones induced by the consumption of both the original plants, in this case also the preparation needs to be under-control;
5. if the preparation presents a quantity of alkaloids (and also the effects) comparable to the consumption of the original plants, in this case the preparation is not under-control.
After having given the guide lines to interpret the drug law, the Supreme Court concluded that the public persecutor had not showed anything enough to arrest us, so annulled the arrests and re-sent the case to local Court of Perugia to re-analyze it.

13th of January, 2006 – Hearing at the new Court in Perugia. We presented a new scientific report signed by an Italian chemist where he concluded saying that the Santo Daime was a “decoction” (as defined in the ONU’s INCB letter) of two plants, so it is clearly a “simple derivative process” of natural plants and presented a quantity of alkaloids comparable to the original plants (however in this document there are no numerical data about the presence of alkaloids in the natural plants).
The new Court of Perugia decided to conform itself to the Supreme Court opinion confirming the annulations of the arrests. The Court declared that we were arrested without any juridical reason. Furthermore the Court declared that in its opinion the Santo Daime seems to be not under-control. This opinion was very positive for us. After this declarations the public persecutor was obliged (although he didn’t agree) to ask for the case dismissal.

4th of April, 2006 – After just a bit more than an year since the arrests of the Italian daimistas, and exactly the same day (one year later) of the first rejection in Perugia, the new Judge of the Court of Perugia concluded this chapter accepting the case dismissal request with the motivation that the public persecutor didn’t demonstrate anything enough to consider the Santo Daime forbidden for the Italian law, so there is no evidence of any crime for the arrested daimistas. This is the crowning achievement of the important victory we had in the Supreme Court of Cassazione in Rome, in October.

(Please find soon the juridical documents of the Italian case in the “Ayahuasca – Santo Daime online Library” at http://www.santodaime.it/Library/libraryindex.htm)

Present situation
Now we have to see how the authorities will react when we will ask for the restitution of our Sacrament. We still don’t know exactly if this important victory has already determined the juridical recognition of the Santo Daime freedom in Italy, but it has for sure made us much closer to this final objective.
In our help for the future we have also the scientific data of dr. Callaway’s article published in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, vol. 37, n° 2 (June 2005): in this study he analyzes 37 plants of Rainha finding in the dry leaves a quantity of DMT until the 1.7% (average 0.75%), so between 10 and 20 times higher than the DMT concentration (0.064%) found in our Daime.
The next steps of our work for the juridical recognition of the freedom of the Santo Daime ritual use in Italy are:
1. to ask for the restitution of the Santo Daime sequestrated;
2. to produce a multidisciplinary document realized by a toxicologist of Sapienza University in Rome together with one of our lawyers in order to compare the Daime chemical analysis with the scientific results presented in dr. Callaway’s article at the light of the declaration of the Supreme Court;
3. to conclude the request presented in 2003 to register the CEFLURIS into the Italian “Religions official register” (that contains up tonow more ore less 20 religious organizations);
4. to create a Santo Daime Italian Association.

Faith and visualizing the juridical recognition of Santo Daime freedom as something already existing that nothing can avoid to be recognized, these are very good weapon to get the victory.

Viva a Liberdade do Santo Daime!

Walter Menozzi”

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(*) Walter Menozzi was born in Reggio Emilia in 1975. In 1998 he was acquainted with Santo Daime at Céu do Mar, in Rio de Janeiro. In 2000/01, he spend six months in the Cefluris Santo Daime communities in the Amazon forest (Céu do Mapiá e Céu do Juruá), to which he travels regularly. From 2001 to 2005 he lived in Assisi collaborating in the administration and organization of the Casa Regina della Pace (CEFLURIS – Italy). He is living in Reggio Emilia and continues to work within the Doctrine of Santo Daime in Italy and in Europe. He has just finished a book about Santo Daime and the process of the drink’s legalization in Europe, called “Ayahuasca,” which will likely be published in Italy by the end of 2006 (translated to English by Matthew Meyer).

Walter Menozzi nasceu na Reggio Emilia, em 1975. Em 1998, conheceu o Santo Daime no Céu do Mar, no de Rio de Janeiro. Em 2000/01, passou um período de seismeses na comunidade do Cefluris – Santo Daime na floresta Amazônica (Céu do Mapiá e Céu do Juruá), para onde costuma viajar regularmente. De 2001 a 2005 morou em Assis colaborando na administração e organização da Casa Regina della Pace (CEFLURIS – Itália). Atualmente mora na Reggio Emilia e continua trabalhando na Doutrina do Santo Daime na Itália e na Europa. Acaba de escrever um livro chamado “Ayahuasca” sobre o Santo Daime e o processo de legalização da bebida na Europa, que será publicado, provavelmente, até o final do ano na Itália.

To get in touch with Walter: leonbianco75@yahoo.it

Click here to know CEFLURIS´site in Italy.