The Rome chief public prosecutor, Vittorio Mele, has applied to the Senate for permission to proceed against Mr Andreotti, who is a life Senator, in connection with the 1979 assassination of Mino Pecorelli. The journalist had been investigating the kidnapping and murder of another former prime minister, Aldo Moro. The potential charge was given as premeditated murder.
The investigations are based partly on evidence by a leading Mafia pentito or turncoat, Tommaso Buscetta. He has told Palermo magistrates Pecorelli was murdered by the Mafia on the orders of two Mafia bosses, Ignazio and Nino Salvo, at the request of Mr Andreotti, because he was afraid secrets connected with the Moro kidnapping would leak out.
Sources in the public prosecutor's office hinted, however, that they had other evidence. A recent US jury decision that Mr Buscetta was not a credible witness in a trial of American Mafia bosses has strengthened claims by Mr Andreotti that some pentiti are dangerous liars.
Looking pale and haunted, but as calm and self-controlled as ever, Mr Andreotti told a television interviewer he would urge the Senate to approve the investigation.
Pecorelli moved in a twilight world of the secret services, scheming freemasons - he belonged to the notorious P2 lodge - and politicians. He was the head of a weekly news sheet, Osservatore Politico, published damaging political secrets, or - critics alleged - blackmailed politicians with the threat of publication.
His last article declared the Red Brigades were not the brains behind the Moro kidnapping, and that it had been planned for precise political purposes. Before he died, he had prepared a damaging cover story on Mr Andreotti, which was never printed.Reuse content