The European and The
Indipendent have published summaries of this story. Here
is the story by John Foot.
Questions, messages, requests can be addressed at
A great, obvious injustice
Leaning tower of justice
"The newspaper Lotta Continua ("The Struggle Continues"), under the brilliant editorship of Adriano Sofri, printed a number of damning exposés": , October 11, 1997.
Dario Fo's Nobel largesse: Electronic Mail & Guardian, John Hooper on Nobel Prize campaign for Sofri, Bompressi and Pietrostefani.
Italian justice faces another assault from pen of Dario Fo: Hege Dukert, Sunday Telegraph, feb 8, 1998.
Verdict in bombing case reopens old wounds
Early on the morning of May 17th, 1972, a police inspector, Luigi Calabresi, was shot dead in Milan as he got into his car to go to work. Five weeks ago, 25 years and seven trials later, three men - Adriano Sofri, Ovidio Bompressi and Giorgio Pietrostefani - received definitive 22-year sentences for the killing of Inspector Calabresi.
It is bad enough that in this case Italian justice seems to have been unforgivably slow. Much worse, however, is the belief shared by many in Italian public life that this is a case of spectacular "injustice" and that the three men in question are innocent.
Two weeks ago 10,000 people gathered outside the Don Bosco prison in Pisa to proclaim the innocence of the three. In recent weeks public figures including the Green Party leader Luigi Manconi, the 1960s student leader Daniel Cohn Bendit, the playwright Dario Fo, the historian Carlo Ginzburg, the singer Adriano Celentano and many journalists have publicly expressed their anger and incredulity about the judgment.
"This sentence is simply mad. All sense of justice has been lost," said playwright Fo.
"Injustice has been done. . . With this sentence a part of our generation, of our life, our sentiments and ideas has been irreversibly damaged," said Green Party leader Manconi.
"This is a page of Italian judicial history, full of lies, not truth," commented the TV journalist, Gad Lerner.
The events that led to the death of Insp Calabresi probably began back in 1968, in the heady days of Europe-wide unrest, days of student revolt that profoundly affected Italian society. It was a time when left-wing "revolutionary" groups sprang up like mushrooms, each with its own fervent self-belief, not to say dogmatism.
Adriano Sofri, the best-known of the three men sentenced for the killing of Insp Calabresi, was a founder member and leader of one such group, Lotta Continua (Continuous Struggle).
Seen from the distance of nearly 30 years, Lotta Continua now looks relatively innocent, certainly more anarchic than Marxist, with its naive conviction of the imminence of social revolution in Western society and of the possibility of spreading revolutionary consciousness from the student lecture halls to the factory shop floor.
This was also a period marked by the "strategy of tension". It was the eve of the era of left-wing Red Brigade violence and of a series of eight allegedly right- wing-inspired bombings. These range from Piazza Fontana in Milan in December 1969 to an attack on a train near Florence in December 1984 which cost the lives of 150 people. The most infamous of these attacks - which all curiously remain "unresolved" - was the Bologna station bombing of August 1980 in which 85 people died.
It was in this climate that on December 15th, 1969, three days after the Piazza Fontana attack, the anarchist Pino Pinelli fell to his death from Insp Calabresi's office in Milan police headquarters. The incident inspired a play, Death of An Anarchist by Dario Fo (staged in Ireland in the early 1980s, directed by Jim Sheridan).
Although the official version of Pinelli's death was that he had committed suicide, many on the left were convinced that he had been pushed out the office window. Insp Calabresi became a hate figure for the left and, when he was killed in May 1972, Lotta Continua's daily paper wrote: "The killing of Calabresi, the man most responsible for the death of Pinelli."
The truth about Pinelli's death has never emerged. Nor indeed did much emerge about Insp Calabresi's death until the summer of 1988 when Leonardo Marino, a former member of Lotta Continua, emerged to point the finger at Sofri, Bompressi and Pietrostefani. Marino claimed that he had driven the car that morning in Milan and that he and the others had been "ordered" by Sofri to carry out the killing.
Marino's testimony contained many inaccuracies. He said the Fiat 125 used by the killers was beige, when in fact it was blue; he described the killers' escape route wrongly; he claimed that Pietrostefani was present in Pisa on the day he had been "ordered" by Sofri to kill Calabresi, even though Pietrostefani later managed to prove he had not been there.
Despite these and other inconsistencies, and despite the lack of corroborative evidence, Marino's belated testimony was enough to see Sofri and friends sentenced last month.
Friends of Adriano Sofri remain indignant. They say that the man who risked his life as a reporter in war-torn Sarajevo, the man who recently negotiated the release of three Italian hostages held by Chechen fighters could never have ordered the death of anyone.
Some 25 years after the death of Insp Calabresi, it seems hard to be sure that justice has been done. Not for the first time, the workings of Italian justice prompt more questions than answers