Three Monkeys Online

A Curious, Alternative Magazine

A Massacre to Remember – The Bologna Train Station Bombing, Twenty-Five Years Later

Mambro and Fioravanti (who mix work and pleasure, one could cynically suggest, as they are loyal and inseparable companions in the subversive struggle as well as long-term sweethearts, married in '85 and delighted parents) are also condemned for various other criminal episodes, including armed robbery, murder, assault, illegal possession of weapons, theft, possesion and sale of stolen goods, personal injury, subversive association, for which they collect 8 life sentences and almost 85 years in jail for her, 7 life sentences and almost 135 years in jail for him, though they to this day declare themselves to be innocent of the Bologna massacre. According to their alibi, [which is initially confused (Fioravanti placed himself in Treviso on the 2nd of August, before correcting himself that he had continued on to Padova)] that August morning they found themselves on the run in Padova, where they met one of their 'colleagues' in Nar, a certain Gilberto Cavallini, who in turn had an appointment with a big name in both the neo-fascist movement and the secret services, Carlo Digiliio. Thus we begin to enter into the higher echelons, the hidden world of secret organisations, and those who run them… [Their alibi, though is impossible to prove. Cavallini’s companion denies the presence of Mambro and Fioravanti, and then later corrects herself. At the same time, a criminal associate, Massimo Sparti testifies that Mambro and Fioravanti had come to him in Rome on the 4th of August, looking for forged documents. In conversation, according to Sparti, they tell him that they were at the train station on the morning of the 2nd of August, and that they were worried that someone might recognise Mambro].

Before leaving those who, at least according to the Courts, were the executors of the attack that murdered 85 people, it's well to remember, regardless of the multiple sentences they've earned, and their own admission of guilt for many of the actions that have brought them to jail, Francesca Mambro and Giusva Fioravanti are, today, able to stroll on the seashore, write articles, editorials, books, participate in conventions (they were invited to address the new youth wing of Berlusconi's Forza Italia earlier this year, until a public outcry forced a retraction), go shopping, eat in restaurants, and pontificate about divine forgiveness as semi-free citizens (In total they have served less than two months in prison for each victim killed).

And Ciavardini? He has always said he was with the other two on the 2nd of August, he was accused by the testimony of a police informer, friends/lovers of informers, and his affiliation with Nar played a role in his trial. He has recently written a book in the form of an interview given to a freelance journalist from Rome. Ciavardini also has always professed his innocence, and his legal position was slightly revised in 2004 when the Criminal Appeals court confirmed his sentence for membership of an armed group but put in doubt his physical participation in the Massacre.

The Search for Justice Pt2: the obstruction of justice, the secret services and P2

Nar have been described as a spontaneous movement, a name behind which could be hidden almost any type of terrorist activity arising from the 'black' [Editor’s note: Fascist activity in Italy is labelled black, due to the blackshirts of Mussolini – while left-wing activity is described as red] matrix of right wing armed revolution and violence. It was a bit like a '70's franchise of the earlier Squadrismo, the fascist paramilitary squads. Could a paragon be suggested in our own period with the claims of responsibility from Al Qaeda? We'll leave it to the experts in international terrorism to decide that. What should be said, though, is that in the investigations of various episodes claimed by Nar, including that of the bomb of 2nd August 1980, lots of other organisations came to light, organisations which, while not proven, were highly suspected of collusion with the Nar and 'black' violence of those years.

As stated in the report of the Parliamentary Commission on Terrorism, &ldquothe Nar continued […] to constitute a name to which a much larger group could refer, and in individual acts of delinquency, time and again, militants from other groups were involved. Because of the lack of a clear division it is necessary to sometimes take into consideration the same criminal episodes in relation to different groups. This explains the partial overlapping of accusations against groups in different trials”. This helps explain how complex the task of discovering the truth was. To capture more fully the atmosphere of this period, one has to go back to 1969, which is generally agreed to have been the start of the ‘strategy of tension’. From that year onwards, in Italy occur numerous attacks, claims of responsibility, merciless executions, by the hands of subversive groups, more or less organised, who take their inspiration from the ideology of the extreme right or left.

But what is meant by 'obstruction of justice', and who benefited, and unfortunately, continue to benefit from it? These false leads were attempts, often successful, to deliberately muddy the waters, to deviate the investigations, to throw up false suspects, divert and distract attention from those close to the truth. A first attempt, perhaps sincere, is the hypothesis that the explosion is an accident, a malfunctioning boiler. Then there is the attempt to suggest that the bomb had gone off accidentally, or that the explosive material in the suitcase was destined for another use, and was just passing through Bologna. Over the years the false leads have included links to French, Palestinian, German, Libyan, or Spanish groups in an international dance of lies and false accusation that makes the head spin and cause shivers of terror and rage.

Licio Gelli, Francesco Pazienza, General Musumeci and Colonel Belmonte are charged and found guilty, of the offence (because it is a criminal offence when false information and accusations are deliberately offered in an attempt to cover-up the real culprits) of obstruction of justice. In 2000, Massimo Carminati (a right-wing extremist), Federigo Manucci Benincasa (the ex-director of the Florence branch of SISMI, part of the Italian secret service), and Ivano Bongiovanni (a common criminal) are charged with the same offence. The first four, in particular, are claimed to be members of P2 (Propaganda 2, a secret Masonic lodge counting politicians, members of the military, bankers, journalists, and members of the secret service amongst its members –including Silvio Berlusconi). Licio Gelli is head of P2 and Musumeci and Belmonte, high officials of the secret services, are certainly linked with the organisation. Pazienza deserves a paragraph to himself, as an extremely mysterious figure working in close collaboration with both the Italian secret service and that of other governments (including the CIA it has been suggested), with contacts in diverse areas of influence, including the Vatican, earning him the title of 'facciendiere' or the 'fixer'. It’s he who suggests the cover that the attack is a neo-nazi work involving Italian, French and German terrorists, and also he who plans, along with officials of SISMI, one of the famous false leads that is uncovered by investigating magistrates, that of a suitcase full of explosives and false documents, recovered from a train in Bologna's train station on the 13th of January 1981. It's discovery lends credence to the theory of an international group behind the attack. Three years later it emerges that the suitcase has been placed on the train by a low ranking official of the Carabinieri, Italy's military police, with the clear intent of confusing the investigation in hand.

State Secrecy (or the secrets of the State): the plotters and the significance of all this death and destruction.

Also playing a part in the obstruction of the investigation is the so-called 'State secrecy’: a law that obliges public officials, and public employees (thus for example, the secret services, high positions of State, commanders of the army, civil servants) to keep confidential decisions, orders and directives that pertain to national security. Which includes, it is argued, the massacre of the 2nd of August 1980 …. there were sentences handed down for the Bologna attack, the physical perpetrators were identified and some of the people involved in the obstructuin of justice were condemned. There remains however the mystery of the political significance of the bomb: 'simply' a right wing bomb against an notoriously left-wing city? An attack that formed part of the infamous 'strategy of tension' which aimed to justify an authoritarian state (as outlined in the document 'the plan for the re-birth of democracy', found amongst P2 documents seized by police investigating Gelli in connection with the Banca Ambrosiana scandal)? A fascist attack, or a State inspired attack? Or really a thread in an international plan?

There are other important missing pieces, preventing a complete picture of the attack: why the determined and precise efforts to confuse the investigation? Were SISMI, P2 working to protect themselves, or someone above them? Who were the real plotters behind the massacre? State secrecy or a type of official omertà?

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