ugust 2, 1980, Saturday. Thousands of Italians had just finished working and were ready to start their holidays at several seaside resorts. One of the most appreciated areas was Romagna, Eastern Italy. In Romagna, we can find lots of small towns that, in the Summer, literally double their inhabitants. Most of them reach towns like Rimini, Riccione, and Cattolica by train. Usually, these trains leave from Bologna’s railway station. On the morning of August 2, then, Bologna’s railway station was full of people.
The terrorist attack
That morning, at 10:25, a bomb exploded in the station waiting room. The bomb had previously been put on a small table next to a wall that separated the station from its parking area. The explosion caused the destruction of the station western wing, the Ancona-Chiasso train on platform one and some parked cars. That bomb was just the latest exploded in the Italian 70s. This is a period known as “Anni di piombo”, years of lead. Anyway, such a powerful bomb had never exploded before. 23 kilograms of explosive, a mixture of 5 kilograms of TNT and T4 enhanced by 18 kilograms of gelatinate. 85 people were killed and more than 200 were injured.
A dramatic story
In the aftermath of the terrorist attack, the entire city of Bologna gathered at the station in order to help those who were blocked below the rubble. 24-years-old Maria and her 3-years-old daughter’s story is dramatic. Restless because of the heat, the child started to run back and forth. Maria tried to go after her, but the child was too fast and Maria couldn’t stop her. When the bomb exploded, the mother was next to the device. The child was found, even though she was dead. Maria was initially part of the missing persons. A few months later, then, she officially became one of those who had lost their lives. Her DNA was found on a rail. In a documentary about Bologna’s terrorist attack, the Italian journalist Carlo Lucarelli stated: “A massacre such as the one occurred at Bologna’s railway station is not just about killing someone, it means disintegrating a person, it makes a person disappear as if she has never existed before”.
The Italian Government and its Prime Minister Francesco Cossiga initially declared that the massacre was due to the explosion of an old boiler in the station basement. Anyway, it soon became clear that the explosion was arson. It was a terrorist attack. Several false theories were created. Some terrorist organizations claimed credit for the attack. But the claims came from both far-left and far-right movements, such as Brigate Rosse and Nuclei Armati Rivoluzionari.
In 1985 and 1986 the prosecutor’s office of Bologna ordered the arrest of twenty-eight members of far-right movements. Among them, there were also Valerio Fioravanti and Francesca Mambro. Their charges were subversive association, armed group, and subversion of democracy. Some others were arrested as false-leads organizers.
On March 9, 1987, the trial of the first instance began. More than a year later, on July 11, 1988, the Jury sentenced Valerio Fioravanti and Francesca Mambro guilty for a terrorist attack. They were sentenced to life imprisonment. Furthermore, Licio Gelli (founder of the most important Italian masonic lodge), Pietro Musumeci and Giuseppe Belmonte were sentenced guilty as false leads organizers. On October 25, 1989, the trial of the second instance began and it ended on July 18, 1990, declaring that Fioravanti and Mambro were not the authors of the massacre. Anyway, the Corte di Cassazione (the highest-instance Italian court) declared that the trial of the second instance had to be done again, as its sentences were deeply illogical. In October 1993 the trial of the second instance started anew. It confirmed the sentences of the trial of the first instance. On November 23, 1995, the Corte of Cassazione agreed upon the sentences.
Until one month ago, we were still far from the truth. We knew the executors of the terrorist attack, but we didn’t know its instigators. Which is extremely important. Anyway, things have now changed. We are closer to the truth. A few weeks ago the prosecutor’s office of Bologna declared that a new trial will be held in order to find out who the instigators of the terrorist attack were. Anyway, we know that the alleged instigator is Licio Gelli, who died in 2015 at the age of 96.
The trial will be held against Paolo Bellini, a former member of a far-right movement and informer of the Italian secret services. According to the prosecutor’s office, Bellini assisted Gelli in organizing the terrorist attack, and Fioravanti and Mambro executed it. Despite being now closer to the truth, nothing is certain yet. I only want to highlight the fact that forty years have passed since the terrorist attack took place. It sounds crazy, but it’s not. It’s just the Italian judicial system.
History, Politics & Economics – A place for uncomfortable truths.