---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Sun, 24 Mar 2002 16:07:29 -0800
From: radtimes <email@example.com>
Subject: Italy blames Red Brigade offshoot.
Italy blames Red Brigade offshoot.
(with additional material by Reuters).
20 March 2002.
ROME -- A day after he wrote an editorial upbraiding Italy's unions,
government adviser Marco Biagi was gunned down near his home in Bologna.
Interior Minister Claudio Scajola said an offshoot of the Red Brigade
guerrilla group was responsible for the attack, triggering fears of a
return to political violence in Italy.
Biaga, a consultant to Labor Minister Roberto Maroni, was an author and
promoter of controversial labor reforms that have angered Italy's
leftist opposition and prompted major unions to threaten a general
strike for next month.
Police tests revealed that the gun used in the attack was identical to
the one used to murder another Labor Ministry aide, Massimo D'Antona, in
a 1999 killing carried out by a group inspired by the Red Brigades, the
Red Brigades for the Building of the Fighting Communist Party.
"Initial analysis shows the weapon was the same as for the D'Antona
crime ... that confirms we are dealing with the Red Brigades Fighting
Communists," Scajola told reporters in Bologna.
Scajola said police believed the guerrilla group was made up of "dozens
of people at the time of the D'Antona murder and are still a small
group." But he said he was worried it could find more followers in the
current climate of tension.
Earlier on Wednesday, the shadowy guerrilla group phoned a Bologna
newspaper to claim responsibility for Biagi's murder.
Government ministers and Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi urged unions
to call off plans for a general strike over the contested labour reform
and resume negotiations.
Italy's three major unions, which together represent some 12 million
members, condemned Biagi's death as an act of barbarism but vowed to
press ahead with their protest, saying they would set the date for the
general strike next Wednesday.
Unions say the labour reform, which Biagi had extolled in a newspaper
article published on the morning of his murder, is aimed at making it
easier for firms to fire workers. The government says it is necessary to
create more jobs.
Former Italian president Francesco Cossiga, who was interior minister
when the Red Brigades carried out the notorious murder of Prime Minister
Aldo Moro in 1978, said that if the unions called off the general
strike, it would strengthen the guerrillas by demonstrating they held
the upper hand.
"It would have been like saying that terrorism is stronger than labour
unions," he told state television.
Domestic terror attacks here in the 1970s and 1980s killed hundreds of
people -- and left a legacy of political hostility between the left and
The Red Brigade carried out many attacks in the 1970s -- most
notoriously the 1978 killing of former Premier Aldo Moro -- but had not
claimed responsibility for any assassination for 11 years before the
Last month, a bomb hidden in an abandoned motorscooter exploded outside
the Interior Ministry in central Rome.
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