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The Kidnapping, Ransom And Murder Of Former Italian Prime Minister, Aldo Moro


On 16th March 1978, along via Fani in Rome, a faction of the militant far-left organization called the Red Brigades intercepted the two-car convoy transporting former Italian Prime Minister, Aldo Moro, abducting him and tragically killing his five bodyguards. This event occurred as Moro was en route to a session of the Chamber of Deputies, where discussions were scheduled to address a vote of confidence for a new government under the leadership of Giulio Andreotti. Notably, this government would mark the first instance of Communist Party of Italy support, aligning with Moro's strategic political vision. Furthermore, Moro was widely regarded as the leading contender for the upcoming 1978 Italian presidential election.

Via Fani, where 5 bodyguards were killed

Aldo Moro was widely thought of as one of Italy’s most adept politicians in the post-World War II era. As a centrist figure within the Christian Democratic Party, he held the position of prime minister on five occasions throughout the 1960s and 1970s, fostering collaboration among Italy’s diverse political factions. Upon assembling his initial cabinet in 1963, Moro notably integrated Socialist members, marking their return to governmental involvement after a 16-year hiatus. His final tenure as prime minister concluded in 1976, following which he assumed the presidency of the Christian Democrats in October of the same year.



On March 11, 1978, he helped end a government crisis when he worked out a parliamentary coalition between the Communist Party and the dominant Christian Democrats. Just five days later, Mr. Moro’s two-car convoy was attacked by a dozen armed Red Brigade terrorists. His five guards were killed, and Moro was abducted and taken to a secret location.


In the subsequent days, trade unions mobilised for a nationwide strike, while security forces conducted numerous raids in Rome, Milan, Turin, and other urban centres in pursuit of Moro's whereabouts. Locations associated with Moro and the abduction became focal points for minor pilgrimages. An estimated 16 million Italians participated in large-scale public demonstrations. After several days, even Pope Paul VI, a close confidant of Moro, intervened by offering himself in exchange for Moro's release. Despite the deployment of 13,000 police officers, 40,000 house searches, and 72,000 roadblocks, no arrests were made by the authorities.

The Red Brigades, established in 1970 by Italian Renato Curcio, employed bombings, assassinations, kidnappings, and bank robberies as a means of promoting communist revolution in Italy. The Italian Communist Party, which supported democracy and participated in Parliament, condemned the terrorist Red Brigade, and the Red Brigade accused the Communist Party of being a pawn of the bourgeoisie. Renato Curcio and 12 other Red Brigade members were on trial in Turin when Moro was kidnapped, and legal proceedings were only briefly halted after his abduction.

The Red Brigades proposed a swap: Moro's life for the release of several prisoners. Speculation arose during his captivity that various government officials, including the then Interior Minister Francesco Cossiga, might have been aware of his whereabouts. Italian politicians found themselves split into two camps: one advocating for negotiation (linea del negoziato), and the other vehemently opposing any form of negotiation (linea della fermezza).




The government swiftly adopted a firm stance, asserting that the state must not yield to terrorist demands. Notably, this position faced criticism from prominent members of the DC party, such as Amintore Fanfani and Giovanni Leone, who was serving as Italy's president at the time.


All major political factions echoed this firm stance, including the Communist Party of Italy (PCI), despite its democratic stance and parliamentary presence; the Red Brigades accused the PCI of being a tool of the bourgeoisie. Exceptions to this hardline approach were the Italian Socialist Party under Bettino Craxi and the extra-parliamentary left.



On March 19 and April 4, letters apparently freely written by Moro were delivered pleading with the government to negotiate. The government attempted secret talks, but on April 15 the Red Brigade rejected these negotiations and announced that Moro had been found guilty in the people’s trial and sentenced to death. Threats to execute him led nowhere, and on April 24 the terrorists demanded the release of 13 Red Brigade members held in Turin in exchange for Moro’s life. On May 7, Moro sent a farewell letter to his wife, saying,

“They have told me that they are going to kill me in a little while, I kiss you for the last time.”

On 9 May 1978, the terrorists placed Moro in a car and told him to cover himself with a blanket, saying that they were going to transport him to another location. After Moro was covered they shot him ten times. According to the official reconstruction after a series of trials, the killer was Mario Moretti. Moro's body was left in the trunk of a red Renault 4 on Via Michelangelo Caetani towards the Tiber River near the Roman Ghetto


Two days later, his body was found on Via Caetani, within 300 yards of the headquarters of the Christian Democrats and 200 yards from the Communist Party headquarters.

In accordance with Moro's expressed wishes during his abduction, no Italian politicians were included in his funeral arrangements, and Pope Paul VI personally presided over Moro's funeral service.


On January 23, 1983, an Italian court handed down life sentences to 32 members of the Red Brigades for their involvement in the abduction and killing of Moro, alongside other criminal activities. Despite numerous trials, many details and aspects of the case remain unresolved, giving rise to various alternative theories about the events.


 


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