Bologna massacre

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Template:Use dmy dates Template:Infobox civilian attack The Bologna massacre (Template:Lang-it) was a terrorist bombing of the Central Station at Bologna, Italy, on the morning of 2 August 1980, which killed 85 people and wounded more than 200. The attack has been materially attributed to the neo-fascist terrorist organization Nuclei Armati Rivoluzionari. Suspicions of the Italian secret service's involvement emerged shortly after, due to the explosives used for the bomb and the political climate in which the massacre occurred (the strategy of tension), but have never been proven.

The bombing

File:Strage di bologna soccorsi 18.jpg
Rescuers carrying a victim.
File:Strage di bologna soccorsi 16.jpg
Bystanders assisted with the rescue operations.

At 10:25 a.m., a time-bomb contained in an unattended suitcase detonated inside an air-conditioned waiting room, which, the month being August (and with air conditioning being uncommon in Italy at the time), was crammed full of people. The explosion destroyed most of the main building and hit the Ancona–Chiasso train that was waiting at the first platform. The blast was heard for miles. The roof of the waiting room collapsed onto the passengers, which greatly increased the total number killed in the terrorist attack.

On that summer Saturday the station was full of tourists and the city was unprepared for such a massive incident. Many citizens and travelers provided first aid to victims and helped to extract people buried under the rubble. Given the large number of casualties, since the ambulances and emergency vehicles were not sufficient for the transport of the injured to the city's hospitals, firefighters employed also buses, in particular the line 37, private cars and taxis. In order to provide care to the victims of the attack, doctors and hospital staff returned from vacation, as well as departments, closed for summer holidays, were reopened to allow the admission of all patients.
The bus no. 37, together with the clock stopped at 10:25, remained a symbol of the massacre.

In the following days the central square of Bologna, Piazza Maggiore, hosted large-scale demonstrations of indignation and protest among the population, in which were not spared harsh criticism and protests addressed to government representatives, who attended the funerals of the victims celebrated in the Basilica San Petronio on 6 August. The only applause was reserved for the Italian President Sandro Pertini, who arrived by helicopter in Bologna at 17.30 on the day of the massacre, and said in tears in front of reporters: "I have no words, we are facing the most criminal enterprise that has ever taken place in Italy."

The attack was recorded as the worst atrocity in Italy since World War II.


The next day, police investigators found metal fragments and scraps of plastics near the source of the explosion.

The bomb was later found to be composed of 23 kg of explosive, a mixture of 5 kg of TNT and Composition B, improved from 18 kg of T4 (nitroglycerin for civil use).

The Italian Government led by Christian Democrat Prime Minister Francesco Cossiga first assumed the explosion to have been caused by an accident (the explosion of an old boiler located in the basement of the station). Nevertheless, soon the evidence gathered on site of the explosion made it clear that the attack constituted an act of terrorism. L'Unità, the newspaper of the Italian Communist Party (PCI) on 3 August already attributed to neo-fascists the responsibility of the attack. Later, in a special session to the Senate, Cossiga supported the theory that neofascists were behind the attack, "unlike leftist terrorism, which strikes at the heart of the state through its representatives, black terrorism prefers the massacre because it promotes panic and impulsive reactions."

Prosecution and trial

Already on 26 August 1980, the prosecutor of Bologna issued twenty-eight arrest warrants against far right militants of the NAR and Terza Posizione: Roberto Fiore, Massimo Morsello (future founders of Forza Nuova), Gabriele Adinolfi, Francesca Mambro, Elio Giallombardo, Amedeo De Francisci, Massimiliano Fachini, Roberto Rinani, Giuseppe Valerio Fioravanti, Claudio Mutti, Mario Corsi, Paolo Pizzonia, Ulderico Sica, Francesco Bianco, Alessandro Pucci, Marcello Iannilli, Paolo Signorelli, PierLuigi Scarano, Francesco Furlotti, Aldo Semerari, Guido Zappavigna, GianLuigi Napoli, Fabio De Felice, Maurizio Neri. They were interrogated in Ferrara, Rome, Padua and Parma. All were released from prison in 1981.

A long, troubled and controversial court case and political issue ensued. The relatives of the victims formed an association (Associazione dei familiari delle vittime della strage alla stazione di Bologna del 2 agosto 1980) to raise and maintain civil awareness about the case.

Main stages of the trial:

  • 19 January 1987: Start of first trial;
  • 25 October 1989: Beginning of the appeal process;
  • 18 July 1990: judgment, the defendants were all acquitted of murder;
  • 12 February 1992: the United Sections of the Criminal Court of Cassation declared the appeal process must be redone, because the sentence is deemed "illogical, incoherent, not assessing proofs and evidence in good terms, not taking into account the facts preceding and following the event, unmotivated or poorly motivated, in some parts the judges supporting unlikely arguments that not even the defense had argued";
  • October 1993: the second appeal trial begins;
  • 16 May 1994: the second appeal judgment confirms the first trial judgment;
  • 23 November 1995: the final judgment of the Court of Cassation confirms the one of the second appeal trial.

A trial involving 20 suspects was initiated in 1987.

In July 1988, four neo-fascists received life terms for the bombing: Valerio Fioravanti (23 at the time of the blast), Francesca Mambro (born in 1960), Massimiliano Fachini and Sergio Picciafuoco. They also received sentences for belonging to an armed group, as well as Paolo Signorelli and Roberto Rinani, who were absolved of the charge for carrying out the attack.<ref name="UPI">Template:Cite news</ref> Licio Gelli, leader of the masonic P2 lodge, as well as three others, Francesco Pazienza, Pietro Musumeci and Giuseppe Belmonte, received sentences for hampering the investigation.<ref name="UPI"/> Stefano Delle Chiaie, who was arrested in and extradited from Venezuela a year earlier, was absolved from the charge of subversive association.

Two years later, in July 1990, an appeals court cancelled the convictions of the defendants Valerio Fioravanti; his wife, Francesca Mambro; Massimiliano Fachini; and Sergio Picciafuoco, as well as the slander convictions of Gelli and Pazienza. A retrial was ordered in October 1993.

On 23 November 1995, the Court of Cassation (Corte di Cassazione) issued the final sentence:

  • Confirmation of life imprisonment to the neo-fascists Valerio Fioravanti and Francesca Mambro, members of the Nuclei Armati Rivoluzionari (NAR)—who have always maintained their innocence—for executing the attack.
  • Sentence for investigation diversion to Licio Gelli (headmaster of P2), Francesco Pazienza and to SISMI officers Pietro Musumeci and Giuseppe Belmonte.

In April 1998, the former fascist Francesca Mambro was authorized to leave her prison during the day, and carried out activities against the death penalty in the headquarters of the Radical Party.

In 2004, Luigi Ciavardini, who had been a 17-year-old NAR member associated closely with the Terza Posizione at the time of the Bologna massacre, received a 30-year prison sentence for his role in the attack, which was upheld by the Court of Cassation in April 2007. Freed by the Italian justice until the sentence of the Court of the Cassation, Ciavardini had been imprisoned in October 2006, after being arrested following the armed robbery of the Banca Unicredito di Roma on 15 September 2005.<ref name=Arrestato>Arrestato l'estremista nero Ciavardini per una rapina a mano armata, La Repubblica, 10 October 2006 Template:It icon</ref> Ciavardini was also charged with the assassination of Francesco Evangelista on 28 May 1980, and the assassination of judge Mario Amato in June 1980.<ref name=Arrestato/>

To date those responsible for the attack and their political motives remain unknown. Some suspect that the Operation Gladio network had been at least partially involved.

Disinformation and false leads

There were several episodes of screening, organized to end the investigation, the most serious of which is hatched by some leaders of the military secret services (SISMI), including generals Pietro Musumeci and Giuseppe Belmonte, which had a police sergeant put in a train in Bologna a suitcase full of explosives, of the same type that blew up the station, containing personal items of two right-wing extremists, a Frenchman and a German. Musumeci also produced a phony dossier, called "Terror on trains," which reported the terror intents of international terrorists in connection with two other members of neofascist subversion, all linked to "armed spontaneism", without political ties, thus at the same time material authors and masterminds of the massacre. General Pietro Musumeci, n°2 of SISMI and revealed in 1981 to be a member of Propaganda Due (P2) masonic lodge, was charged with having created falsified evidence to charge Roberto Fiore and Gabriele Andinolfi, two leaders of Terza Posizione who had fled in exile to London, of the bombing.<ref name=Monzat89>René Monzat, Enquêtes sur la droite extrême, Le Monde-éditions, 1992, p.89</ref> Both Terza Posizione leaders claimed that Musumeci was trying to divert attention from Licio Gelli, head of P2.<ref name=Monzat89/>

Francesco Cossiga, on 15 March 1991, at the time of his presidency, said he had been wrong to define "fascist" the massacre at Bologna station and had been misinformed by the secret services. Around this massacre, as had happened with the massacre of Piazza Fontana in 1969, we developed a heap of statements, counter-statements, true and false tracks, typical of other tragic events of the so-called strategy of tension.

Alternative hypotheses

File:Strage di bologna funerali 2.jpg
Funerals of the victims.

Due to the protracted legal procedures over the years and the numerous proven false leads, there developed a number of assumptions and divergent political interpretations around to the real perpetrators and masterminds of the attack.

  • In an annex published in fascicles in 1994 of the right-wing weekly L'Italia Settimanale, entitled "History of the First Republic" it is given a particular interpretation of the massacre, linked with Ustica massacre (of which it is literally defined bis, a repetition) and then compared to the cases of Enrico Mattei and Aldo Moro. Without disputing the court rulings that have recognized the perpetrators, the text is intended to indicate the masterminds. The text continues with:


  • Between 1999 and 2006, during the sessions of the "Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry on terrorism in Italy and on the causes of the failure to identify those responsible for the massacres" (XIII legislature, 1996–2001) and then of the "Commission of Inquiry on the Mitrokhin dossier and the activity of the Italian intelligence (XIV legislature, 2001-2006), new elements have emerged on international terrorist networks and the Italian secret services of the former Soviet bloc and major Arab countries like Syria, Lebanon, Libya, South Yemen and Iraq. With this information it was possible to pick up the threads of a plot hidden for 25 years and discover the key points of a secret agreements with the Palestinian leadership (known as lodo Moro) - the background to the arms trafficking between the PFLP and Italy - the threats to the Italian government for the seizure of missiles and the arrest of the PFLP leader in Italy, Abu Saleh Anzeh, in Ortona - the ties of the terrorist Abu Saleh Anzeh with the internationalist Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, alias Carlos - the warning of the Italian antiterrorist secret service three weeks before the massacre, - the failure of the Italian intelligence operations to avoid retaliatory action - the arrive in Italy on 1 August 1980 of Thomas Kram, of a German terrorist group linked to Carlos and the Palestinians, and present in Bologna on the day of the massacre. Faced with this evidence, on 17 November 2005 the Bologna prosecutor opened a case against unknown persons (Dossier 7823/2005 RG).
  • According to media reports in 2004, taken up again in 2007 Francesco Cossiga, in a letter addressed to Enzo Fragala, leader of the AN section in the Mitrokhin Committee, suggests a Palestinian involvement (at the hands of George Habash's Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the Separat group of Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, known as "Carlos the Jackal") behind the attack. In addition, in 2008 former President Francesco Cossiga gave an interview to BBC in which it reaffirmed its belief that the massacre would not be attributable to black terrorism, but to an "incident" of Palestinian resistance groups operating in Italy. He declares also being convinced of the innocence of Francesca Mambro and Giuseppe Valerio Fioravanti. The PFLP has always denied responsibility.
  • In 2005, from his cell in Paris, the pro-Palestinian terrorist Ilich Ramirez Sanchez Carlos stated that "the Mitrokhin Committee attempts to falsify history" and that "they were the CIA and the Mossad to hit in Bologna", with the intent to warn and punish Italy for its relations of mutual trust with the PLO, who had secretly pledged not to hit Italy in exchange for some protection.
  • Following the 2006 arrest of former Argentine Triple A member Rodolfo Almirón, Spanish lawyer José Angel Pérez Nievas declared that it was "probable that Almirón participated — along with Stefano Delle Chiaie and Augusto Cauchi — in the 1980 bombing in Bologna's train station." But the Argentine Supreme Court refused in 1998 to extradite Canchi to Italy.
  • In May 2007, the son of Massimo Sparti (thug linked to the banda della Magliana and the main accuser of Fioravanti) declares, "my father in the history of the Bologna process has always lied"
  • On 19 August 2011 the prosecutor of Bologna placed under investigation two German terrorists, Thomas Kram and Christa Margot Frohlich, both linked to the group of terrorist Carlos, who would be present in Bologna on the day of the attack, thus following the trail of Palestinian terrorism, never accepted by the president of the family victims Paolo Bolognesi and instead repeatedly revived by Francesco Cossiga.


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File:Bologna massacre memorial.jpg
Plaque at the Bologna Central Station

The municipality of Bologna together with the Associazione tra i familiari delle vittime della strage alla stazione di Bologna del 2 agosto 1980 hold an annual international composition competition, which culminates with a concert in the town's main square, Piazza Maggiore annually on 2 August, which is also the day designated as a national memorial day for all terrorist massacres.

The area of the station where the bomb detonated has been reconstructed but, as a memorial of the attack, the original floor tile pierced by the detonation has been left in place and a deep crack closed by a glass panel has been made in the reconstructed main wall. As a further memorial, the station clock that stopped at 10:25 due to the explosion, has been repaired but permanently set at that time.

List of victims and their age

  • Antonella Ceci, 19
  • Angela Marino, 23
  • Leo Luca Marino, 24
  • Domenica Marino, 26
  • Errica Frigerio, 57
  • Vito Diomede Fresa, 62
  • Cesare Francesco Diomede Fresa, 14
  • Anna Maria Bosio, 28
  • Carlo Mauri, 32
  • Luca Mauri, 6
  • Eckhardt Mader, 14
  • Margret Rohrs, 39
  • Kai Mader, 8
  • Sonia Burri, 7
  • Patrizia Messineo, 18
  • Silvana Serravalli, 34
  • Manuela Gallon, 11
  • Natalia Agostini, 40
  • Marina Antonella Trolese, 16
  • Anna Maria Salvagnini, 51
  • Roberto De Marchi, 21
  • Elisabetta Manea, 60
  • Eleonora Geraci, 46
  • Vittorio Vaccaro, 24
  • Velia Carli, 50
  • Salvatore Lauro, 57
  • Paolo Zecchi, 23
  • Viviana Bugamelli, 23
  • Catherine Helen Mitchell, 22
  • John Andrew Kolpinski, 22
  • Angela Fresu, 3
  • Maria Fresu, 24
  • Loredana Molina, 44
  • Angelica Tarsi, 72
  • Katia Bertasi, 34
  • Mirella Fornasari, 36
  • Euridia Bergianti, 49
  • Nilla Natali, 25
  • Franca Dall'Olio, 20
  • Rita Verde, 23
  • Flavia Casadei, 18
  • Giuseppe Patruno, 18
  • Rossella Marceddu, 19
  • Davide Caprioli, 20
  • Vito Ales, 20
  • Iwao Sekiguchi, 20
  • Brigitte Drouhard, 21
  • Roberto Procelli, 21
  • Mauro Alganon, 22
  • Maria Angela Marangon, 22
  • Verdiana Bivona, 22
  • Francisco Gómez Martínez, 23
  • Mauro Di Vittorio, 24
  • Sergio Secci, 24
  • Roberto Gaiola, 25
  • Angelo Priore, 26
  • Onofrio Zappalà, 27
  • Pio Carmine Remollino, 31
  • Gaetano Roda, 31
  • Antonino Di Paola, 32
  • Mirco Castellaro, 33
  • Nazzareno Basso, 33
  • Vincenzo Petteni, 34
  • Salvatore Seminara, 34
  • Carla Gozzi, 36
  • Umberto Lugli, 38
  • Fausto Venturi, 38
  • Argeo Bonora, 42
  • Francesco Betti, 44
  • Mario Sica, 44
  • Pier Francesco Laurenti, 44
  • Paolino Bianchi, 50
  • Vincenzina Sala, 50
  • Berta Ebner, 50
  • Vincenzo Lanconelli, 51
  • Lina Ferretti, 53
  • Romeo Ruozi, 54
  • Amorveno Marzagalli, 54
  • Antonio Francesco Lascala, 56
  • Rosina Barbaro, 58
  • Irene Breton, 61
  • Pietro Galassi, 66
  • Lidia Olla, 67
  • Maria Idria Avati, 80
  • Antonio Montanari, 86

Victims' association

The victims' association (Associazione tra i familiari delle vittime della strage alla stazione di Bologna del 2 agosto 1980) was formed on 1 June 1981 in order to "get due justice with possible initiatives", made up initially of 44 people; the number of members later grew to 300 elements.

The association in the years following the massacre remained active, both for the memory of the massacre and to propose initiatives that were added to the investigation. Quarterly, its components are used to go to the court, in order to meet prosecutors and, out of the meeting, even launching a news conference for information on the state of things.

On 6 April 1983, the Association, together with the associations of victims of the massacres of Piazza Fontana, Piazza della Loggia and Italicus train, formed, based in Milan, the Union of Relatives of Victims to Massacres (Unione dei Familiari delle Vittime per Stragi).

See also

Template:Commons category

  • Banda della Magliana, a mafia gang with links to the fascist-aligned NAR
  • False flag operations
  • List of terrorist incidents
  • Aerolinee Itavia Flight 870
  • History of the Italian Republic
  • List of massacres in Italy
  • Strage di Piazza Fontana
  • Strategy of tension
  • Games of the XXII Olympiad (Moscow)
  • P2 lodge
  • Operation Gladio
  • Carlos the Jackal



Further reading

External links


Template:1980 railway accidents