Yesterday, as every August 2nd since 1980, citizens, political organizations, and various institutional representatives marched through the streets of Bologna to remember the massacre that struck the city during the terrible years of terrorism. 32 years ago a bomb was placed in the waiting room of Bologna’s central train station, killing 85 people and injuring more than 200. This massacre is considered the peak of the so called “strategia della tensione”, i.e. the Strategy of Tension whereby elements of the state in concert with right wing paramilitary groups engaged in bombings which were then blamed on leftist groups in order to justify subsequent crackdowns on the worker and student movements that developed in the late 1960’s, and had attained a level of power that has not been seen since.
Although it was immediately clear to all that the explosion was a bombing, and furthermore that it was “black”, i.e. fascist terrorism (there had been no less than tens of such attacks in the years prior), for a full 24 hours the official statements of the government and of the police supported the hypothesis that it might have been an accident.
The detectives of Bologna’s Public Prosecutor’s Office considered the possibility of right-wing terrorism, and began to investigate the hypothesis that the attack could have been planned from within high-level institutions, as well incidences of institutional obstruction and diversion of the investigation itself. The investigations were then moved to Rome, where other rumors and hypothesis started to circulate about the possibility that the bombing was part of a campaign of international terrorism.
The trial started in January 1987. It examined the results of the Pollio Institute Congress of May 1965, which is considered the first theoretical account of the Strategy of Tension. The Congress had hosted top military officers, secret service agents, politicians, university professors, and right-wing terrorists – amongst them, Pino Rauti, founder of Ordine Nuovo, the right-wing organization which was involved in some of the most terrible massacres of the time (such as the bombing of Piazza Fontana).
From a juridical perspective little has been established about the crimes of the Strategy of Tension. As for the Bologna attack, the suspects were all acquitted on appeal. The Court of Cassation (i.e., the Supreme Court) threw out the entire trial because of the verdict’s lack of coherence, and because of the judges having supported unlikely theories which were so improbable that even the defense had not argued for them.
In 1995, Giuseppe Valerio Fioravanti and Francesca Mambro, the two neo-fascists who were charged with being the perpetrators of the attack, were condemned to life sentence. Others have been condemned for obstructing the investigation: Licio Gelli (head of the Masonic lodge P2), a few agents and heads of the secret services and some right-wing activists. In 2007 Luigi Ciavardini was condemned to 30 years for having taken part in the massacre.
During the entire time of the investigations and trial, the Victims’ Family Association (founded in June 1981) has been fighting for justice; without their struggle it would have been impossible to see the slightest sign of truth. The association has struggled for the declassification of state secrets regarding the massacre and the period of state sponsored terrorism but has never managed to win these concessions. It has been impossible, too, to know the truth about the people behind the massacre.
Yesterday, Minister of the Interior Cancellieri has promised to declassify state secrets about the massacre of Bologna’s central station: no previous governments had promised such a thing. President of the Victims’ Family Association Paolo Bolognesi has obviously declared that he wishes to see deeds and not only words. Bolognesi then attacked an FLI deputy (Chamber President and Post-Fascist Gianfranco Fini’s party), who’s trying to have the condemned terrorists released, and to relaunch inquiries into the possibility that the bombing was related to Italian support for the Palestinian Liberation Organization.