On Saturday, 2 August 1980, the first full day of the Italian national holiday, a massive explosion ripped through the waiting room at Bologna railway station, killing 85 people and seriously injuring and maiming a further 200.
Although the people of Italy knew instinctively this was a neo-fascist provocation, the police could come up with no real leads and seven days after the outrage the investigation had come to a dead end.
The first clue came when a prisoner claimed to have overheard the massacre being planned by his cellmates. Arrest warrants were issued for a number of neo-fascists but nothing substantial came from this and other leads. Indeed, by December 1980 there were still only three suspects and the evidence against them hinged solely on the statement of a fellow neo-fascist informer, Piergiorgio Farina. This evidence proved circumstantial and on 30 April 1981 the investigating magistrate ordered the release of Francisco Furlotti, the man named by Farina as having been the key planner of the outrage. The other two suspects were also released at the end of 1981, again due to insufficient evidence — a decision which shocked most of Italy, not only the relatives of the dead and injured.
The investigation was not, however, at a dead end. By mid-April 1982 news of four arrests on charges of illegal association and membership of an armed gang — Leda Minetti, Adriano Tilgher, Maurizio Giorgi and Carmine Palladino — for the first time pointed the finger directly at Stefano Delle Chiaie.
THE MASONIC CONNECTION
In May 1981 the investigation into the Bologna massacre was overshadowed by another scandal which exposed the formalised corruption of the Italian ruling class. It also proved to be inextricably linked with the Bologna enquiry. During a police raid on the Arezzo villa of Licio Gelli, a respected businessman and honourary Argentinian consul, in connection with the investigation into Michele Sindona, the Vatican's financial front man and embezzler of 45 million dollars from his Franklin National Bank, police discovered a list of 953 prominent public figures who were members of a Masonic lodge, Propaganda Due or "P2," based in Rome's Hotel Excelsior under the worshipful mastership of Gelli.
Further investigations revealed that Gelli was a wanted wartime fascist and had used P2 to establish a conspiratorial network which covered every key sector of the Italian establishment and whose membership included cabinet ministers, newspaper publishers, the heads of television and radio stations, and the heads of the secret services and armed forces. Lodge P2 was in effect the continuation and political extension, in Italy and in Latin America, of the Rose of the Winds organisation whose existence had been exposed in 1974.1 The scandal which followed the disclosure of the existence and membership of Lodge P2 brought down the government of Orlando Forlani, but only two members of P2 were ever questioned about any criminal offence — Licio Gelli and a secret service officer who faced charges concerning the passing of classified information. Captain Antonio La Bruna, Stefano Delle Chiaie's secret service shadow, was the officer questioned as to his membership of P2.
The full implications of this elaborate secret Masonic network are still unknown, but subsequent revelations by members and events have cast some light on its founding aims. Licio Gelli, who had fled to Argentina where he had lived for many years after the war and where he had many protectors, was arrested in Switzerland in September 1982. Carrying a false passport, he was arrested while attempting to withdraw 120 million dollars from the private account of Roberto Calvi, a member of both P2 and City of London Lodge 901, President of the Banco Ambrosiano, another Vatican conduit. In a statement by fellow P2 brother Michele Sindona to Jeremy Paxman of the BBC "Panorama" programme from a US prison where he is serving 25 years for fraud, the money being raised by both Calvi and Gelli, with the help of the Vatican bank, was to be used to finance extreme right-wing military regimes in Latin America. These regimes relied heavily on the support of Lodge P2, which saw its main function as coordinating the international activities and attitudes of right-wing "anticommunism" and which was undoubtedly one of the most effective clandestine power structures forming links between the far right in Europe and in Latin America.
Further information as to the insidious nature of Lodge P2 came to light with the arrest in Switzerland of Elio Ciolini, a P2 "brother," alleged secret service agent and card-carrying officer of the Bolivian Interior Ministry. Ciolini had been jailed in Switzerland on charges of swindling, kidnapping and making death threats against a woman by the name of Renata Ball. In the autumn of 1981, from his prison cell in Geneva, Ciolini wrote to Aldo Gentile, the magistrate investigating the Bologna railway massacre, claiming he had inside knowledge and was prepared to make a statement. The magistrate eventually travelled to Switzerland and began taking Ciolini's deposition in mid March 1982. Ciolini made some remarkable allegations when he began to outline his explanation of the mechanics and reason for the outrage.
According to the informer, a huge fraud had been planned in Italy involving the massive ENI industrial group (a parastatal corporation which controlled most of Italy's oil, natural gas and chemical industry — and which also subsidised the neo-fascist MSI) and a sum of 50 billion lire. Plans for this massive swindle were, according to Ciolini, discussed at a "special" meeting of Lodge P2 on 11 April 1980 in Monte Carlo. It was decided that Gelli should commission Stefano Delle Chiaie to organise an action of such spectacular dimensions that governmental and public attention would be diverted away from the financial coup. According to Ciolini, Delle Chiaie and Gelli met at the Sheraton Hotel in Buenos Aires to finalise their plans.
GUNS AND DRUGS
Whether or not Ciolini's allegations were true (and there is considerable doubt about some of them) he was released shortly after giving his statement to the Bologna magistrate. His bail was, according to a letter sent to the chairman of the parliamentary inquiry into the activities of Lodge P2, put up by the carabinieri or another secret service agency. On his release, Ciolini went to see the Bologna magistrates claiming he was passing through on his way to check in at the "HQ of his service" (carabinieri counter-intelligence) and made a further deposition concerning drug and arms smuggling rings centred around Lodge P2. He also went into great detail about the organisation of the Delle Chiaie network abroad, particularly in Latin America.
As a result of this latest deposition by Ciolini, the investigating magistrate issued the warrants for the arrest of Leda Minetti, Carmine Palladino, Adriano Tilgher and Maurizio Giorgi. Events began to move quickly. Carmille Palladino, a dedicated disciple and confidant of Stefano Delle Chiaie, a long-time friend who had acted as a go-between for the fascist leader and his organisation in Europe, was coldbloodedly strangled in prison on 12 August 1982 by another member of the Delle Chiaie group, Pierluigi Concutelli,2 the neo-fascist and would-be assassin of Bernardo Leighton, who was serving a life sentence for the murder of the magistrate Vittorio Occorsio. Concutelli, who immediately admitted responsibility for the murder, claimed he had strangled Palladino because he had been directly responsible for the arrest and death of Giorgio Vale, another member of the Delle Chiaie network. What is more likely is that Concutelli had been ordered to kill Palladino who was seen as the weak link in the chain and who could easily incriminate all the other members of the "Black Orchestra," particularly his boss, Delle Chiaie himself. Fear of being indicted on a charge of massacre could move him to tell all he knew of the organisation's involvement in a series of compromising events dating back to the attempted coup of General De Lorenzo and the fascist inspired revolt which rocked Reggio Calabria in 1970.
Coincidentally, shortly before his murder Carmine Palladino had been the subject of a series of discussions between the magistrate investigating the Bologna massacre, Aldo Gentile, and journalist Roberto Chiori. Before Delle Chiaie's name had been openly linked with the Bologna massacre, Chiori had turned his attentions to locating the whereabouts of the "historic" leader of Italian neo-fascism, Stefano Delle Chiaie. The first person the journalist went to was the terrorist leader's companion, Leda Minetti. A few days after he made his initial contact with Minetti, Chiori was told to "prepare for a long journey."
He was then introduced to the person who would escort him to meet Delle Chiaie: Carmine Palladino. It was not until the two men boarded a plane for Brussels that Chiori knew where he was going. From Brussels they took a train to Paris where they booked into a hotel in Montmartre to await the contact. During this journey Chiori felt he had got to know Palladino fairly well and formed a favourable impression of him. Palladino told the journalist that he first got to know Delle Chiaie when he was a member of the "Quadraro" gang in the Rome suburb where Delle Chiaie was the fascist boss. He swore to Chiori that he had "never gone over the top" and added that he had now lost all his original idealism and enthusiasm for the cause, nor did he believe in violence.
This loss of enthusiasm was probably also transparent to Delle Chiaie himself and may well have been a factor in the decision to eliminate his old friend and comrade. Palladino was, however, totally under the charismatic spell of "Il Caccola," as Chiori was to observe later. He was clearly proud of his personal relationship with Delle Chiaie about whom he spoke with great reverence, a man for whom he would clearly have sacrificed much with no hesitation. The call eventually came from Delle Chiaie's hideout and a meeting was arranged. The Nazi leader was comfortably ensconced in a luxury suite in one of the new hotels in the fashionable Etoile district of Paris. Delle Chiaie was accompanied everywhere by a bodyguard supplied by his Paris network. Chiori's interview with Delle Chiaie lasted six hours, during which time Carmine Palladino was present at all times. The relationship between them, as observed by the journalist, appeared to be that of general and adjutant. At one point, while sorting through letters and documents brought by Palladino, Delle Chiaie became furious with an item referring to a police search of an insurance agency run by another of Delle Chiaie's close lieutenants, Adriano Tilgher.
Apparently, the information obtained by the police during this search led to the arrest of numerous members of Terza Posizione, a neo-fascist terrorist organisation under Delle Chiaie's aegis. During the interview Chiori noted that Delle Chiaie ended up claiming a "paternity of sorts" of the NAR.
The sequence of events leading up to the Bologna massacre on 2 August 1980, according to the testimony of penitent fascist "supergrasses" such as Elio Ciolini and Aldo Tisei, appears to be as follows:
Paris: early summer 1980. Delle Chiaie arrived in Paris from Bolivia where he met, among others, Carmine Palladino, Alessandro Alibrandi (later safehoused in England by the League of Saint George) and Giuseppe Dimitri. Delle Chiaie also admits to having been in Cannes during the summer of 1980 on a "working holiday," travelling on a Venezuelan passport.
Diksmuide, Belgium: June. International neo-fascist rally hosted by Flemish Militant Order (VMO), attended by neo-fascists from Italy, France, Spain, the United States and Britain. According to the British anti-fascist magazine Searchlight, a secret meeting was held in Bruges to discuss clandestine activities such as the exchange of personnel to effect jobs in each other's countries and the establishing of an escape network and the setting up of a network of "safehouses" for neo-fascists on the run. The British neo-fascist organisation, the League of Saint George, undertook to provide cover for wanted neo-fascists.
Rome, 26 June. Pierluigi Pagliai and Maurizio Giorgi arrived on a flight from Buenos Aires where they meet up with three other mercenaries in a hotel: Frenchman Olivier Danet and two West Germans, Joachim Fiebelkom and Karl Heinz Hoffman, leader of the West German terrorist group which bore his name.
Abruzzi, Italy: mid-July. Campo Hobbit, third camp of its kind, inspired by the writings of J. R. R. Tolkien, attracted over two thousand neo-fascists including many subsequently implicated in the Bologna massacre. Inspector Paul Durand, a French security policeman and founder member of the French neo-fascist FANE (allegedly set up with assistance from Delle Chiaie) visited Bologna "on holiday" with another Delle Chiaie associate, Marco Affatigato, and a group of other unidentified neo-fascists shortly before the bombing. It would appear Durand was being set up by the Italians. In Bologna Durand met Francisco Donini, founder of the Italian National Socialist Union and the Fiume Liberation organisation, who arranged for him to meet other extreme rightwingers, including Franco Freda's lawyer. In a statement to French police investigators, Durand has since voiced his doubts: "What still surprises me is that Donini wanted me to check into a hotel right opposite the Bologna railway station. But he knew it was too expensive for me..." Durand then travelled on to Perugia for a meeting with Hugo Cesarini of the National Labour Party, then to Rome for further meetings with MSI members, then on to Campo Hobbit for the fascist "festivities." Also present at the Campo Hobbit celebrations were Augusto Cauchi, Mario Tutti, Luciano Franci and Pierre Malentocchi — all members of the Delle Chiaie network and the latter three accused of involvement in the 1974 Italicus train bombing.
FROM BOLOGNA TO BEIRUT
Following the carnage of the Bologna railway station and the subsequent investigation into the extreme right, neo-fascist terrorists in Italy went underground. According to informer Walter Sordi,3 who spent two years as a fugitive in France, the first to get out were Stefano Procopio, Fabrizio de Iori, Alessandro Alibrandi and Sordi himself. These made their getaway on the now well-organised escape lines by plane from Rome to Athens on false passports, by ship from Athens to Cyprus and then the final journey to Beirut where they were assured of a warm welcome. As soon as the four neo-fascists landed in Lebanon they were escorted to a Christian Falangist military training camp where, according to Sordi: "They made us an allowance of 300,000 lire monthly, enough to live on. They taught us how to use heavy arms, bazookas, machineguns and we learned how to put bombs together and how explosives should be handled." In return for this hospitality and training the fascists were occasionally asked along to take part in attacks on military bases of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation. Sordi's statement concerning the Christian Falangist backing for the Italian neo-fascists was supported later when a PLO guerrilla group captured some Germans returning from the Maronite Christian part of Beirut. Held and questioned, the Germans admitted having spent some time in the Falangist training camp at Akura: "We also met about a dozen Italians there," they claimed.
In August 1981, a year after the Bologna bombing, Searchlight magazine announced that Italian neo-fascists wanted for questioning in connection with the massacre had all been found safehouses and cover in Britain. The British end of the new ODESSA escape network was apparently proposed and organised by Steven Brady of the League of Saint George during the previous year's Diksmuide rally. After leaving Beirut, Alibrandi had travelled to London where he was seen by Searchlight's informer at a League of Saint George social at the Oak Tree public house in Acton, London. Throughout the evening Alibrandi and other Italians were in the company of both Steven Brady and Mike Griffin, membership secretary of the League of Saint George. The following month a further seven Italians were arrested in London in connection with the Bologna massacre. Although the few who were employed were in poorly paid catering jobs, they were found to be in possession of substantial sums of money; one had £2,000. However, the extradition request was turned down by London magistrates because of the "poor quality of the evidence put forward by the Italian authorities" and all were allowed to remain in Britain. British police apparently believed that up to 23 other wanted neo-fascist fugitives were also hiding in Britain.4
Some time in 1981 Alessandro Alibrandi returned secretly to Italy where he was shot dead in a gun battle with police that December.
THE NOOSE TIGHTENS
On Friday, 10 September 1982 the Bologna investigating magistrate, Aldo Gentile, issued an international warrant for the arrest of five men alleged to be perpetrators of the outrage two years previously. He told reporters: "The man who was carrying the suitcase containing the explosives is among them."
The five were:
Olivier Danet 28 year old French mercenary with extreme right-wing connections, involved in arms and drug smuggling and a member of the Bolivian "Fiancés of Death"; alleged to be the man who prepared the Bologna station bomb.
Joachim Fiebelkorn the German mercenary and "Fiancé of Death."
Stefano Delle Chiaie
Of the five only Giorgi was already in custody on other charges. Danet was arrested by French police shortly afterwards. Fiebelkorn gave himself up to West German police in Frankfurt on the Monday after the arrest warrant was issued and was released on bail within 40 hours.
While he was in custody Fiebelkorn made a lengthy statement concerning his work for Delle Chiaie as a "security adviser" in Bolivia. (This was the statement naming Stefano Delle Chiaie as the main conduit between the Latin American drug producers and the Sicilian mafia.)
- 1 See Appendix G.
- 2 Pierluigi Concutelli, the top assassin for the Delle Chiaie network, and Mario Tuti (in whose "honour" the Bologna railway massacre was claimed) had both previously carried out another prison murder. The earlier victim was Ermano Buzzi, a forty year old fascist arrested in 1979 for his alleged part in the 1974 Brescia bombing. Buzzi, who was awaiting trial in the top security wing of Novara prison, was the third prisoner to be murdered in Novara in the space of one month.
- 3 On the "new ODESSA," Sordi has madc statements concerning the existence of a possibly Paris-based clandestine clearing house for wanted fascists which also acts as a mercenary recruitment agency—echoes of the Paladin organisation. Sordi has told Italian magistrates of the case of one fascist, Carlo de Cilla wanted for a robbery attributed to the NAR, who was recruited through this agency to fight fo~ the Afghan Liberation army.
- 4 The importance of Britain as a refuge for the Italian neo-Nazi right is underlined by the continuing attempts by Giovanni Ventura, the Italian secret service agent most directly implicated in the 1969 Piazza Fontana bombing, to obtain political asylum in this country on his release from custody in Argentina. Another member of the Delle Chiaie network, Luciano Petrone, was arrested on an international warrant in London on 24 January 1983. Petrone was held on an extradition request from the Italian police who wanted to question him in connection with the murder of two policemen in Rome in June 1982. Spanish police also wanted to question him in regard to a bank robbery in Marbella which netted an estimated £10 million from safe-deposit boxes. Among those attending the Petroni extradition hearings as observers were three of the young Italian neo-fascists previously held on extradition warrants in connection with terrorist charges in Italy.