Since 1968, the Former Military Courthouse was the main rallying and starting point for numberless protests regularly taking place at every trial involving conscientious objectors to military service.
Torino’s Military Courthouse was shut down in 2008; its building stands within the former Royal Riding School compound which was built in Contrada della Zecca (the Mint Quarter) at the eastern rim of the baroque city after a mid-17th century plan and subsequently developed until the late 19th century in order to house the service workings to the Royal Palace and Court.
Scores of conscientious objectors were tried here for refusing their serving in the military out of political or religious reasons.
Conscientious objection to military service was acknowledged as a right in Italy by an Act dated December 15th 1972, following a lengthy national campaign carried out by movements and organizations incl. the Movimento Internazionale della Riconciliazione and the Movimento Nonviolento.
Prior to that term, objectors were tried for ‘disobedience’ or because ‘missing at draft call’. They were sentenced to many jail months, after serving which they would again be requested to enroll; on a renewed refusal, they would be again sentenced to jail, and so forth …, their serving obligation supposed to cease no sooner than on getting 45 years old. Yet, after a few repeated such sentences, the military establishment, to get rid of such a nuisance, would discharge the convict by stating his ‘unfitness’ on the grounds of some fancy ailment.
A well-known case is Pietro Pinna’s, seen as the first post-WW2 objector. He was called up to his military service at the Casale Monferrato C.A.R. (Recruits Training Center) on Feb. 6th 1949, put to trial in Torino on Aug. 30th the same year and put on probation for 10 months, called up again to the Avellino C.A.R., and, on his renewed refusal, sentenced to 8 months’ jailing by the Naples military court (on Sept. 29th 1949). He was set free on Dec. 31st 1949 within the frame of a Holy Year jubilee amnesty under the request to show up at the Bari C.A.R. for his military service. On his coming to the assigned barracks, he was taken to the adjacent military hospital and submitted to a medical check-up, to be found suffering from a ‘cardiac neurosis’ and thus immediately discharged.