Aldo Moro's killer in jail after 23 years on run

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The kidnapping and murder in 1978 of Aldo Moro, a former prime minister, by Italy's Red Brigades, stunned Europe. This week one of the last members of the cell responsible still at large was arrested in Cairo and brought back to prison in Rome.

Sentenced in absentia, after Moro's death, to life imprisonment, Rita Algranati was picked up by Italian plainclothes police at Cairo airport on Wednesday. Arrested with her was another veteran of Italy's hard-left, Maurizio Falessi, sentenced while on the run to 11 years for other violent crimes committed during Italy's "years of lead" from 1972 to 1989. After fleeing Italy in 1981, Algranati had lived in Nicaragua then moved with Falessi to Algeria. Their arrest was said to have been due to undercover work by the Algerian and Italian secret services. Falessi's brother Silvano said that Maurizio had been "sold" to Italy by Algeria.

Moro was ambushed on his way to the opening of parliament in March 1978, and for 54 days the Brigades kept him prisoner at a hiding place in the Roman suburbs. On 9 May 1978 they shot him, and left his body in the boot of a car in central Rome. Today the only member of the gang still at liberty is Algranati's former husband Alessio Casimirri. He is living openly in Managua, Nicaragua, where he runs two Italian restaurants.

Coming after terrorist alerts in Italy, when several parcel bombs were sent from Bologna to European Union targets over Christmas, the arrest of the petite, 46-year-old brigade member has revived worries that Italy could be incubating another batch of violent insurrectionists, galvanised by loathing of Silvio Berlusconi's "regime".

The killing of two economists helping the government to reform Italy's labour market, one in 1999 and one in 2002, prompted similar concern, especially as the five-pointed Red Brigades star was painted on walls close to where the bodies were found.

But last March the authorities made a breakthrough when a woman called Nadia Lioce was arrested after a shoot-out on a train. Her laptop and mobile phone gave up their secrets, and on 7 October men and women were picked up across Italy and the government claimed it had smashed the group. Several declared themselves to be "political prisoners" and members of the Brigades.

But the new wave of parcel bombs, heralded by the explosion of two small devices in rubbish bins outside the home of Romano Prodi, the president of the European Commission, in Bologna before Christmas, indicated there were still cells out there dedicated to "propaganda of the deed". Several of the incendiary bombs sent in the post, none of which caused serious injury, were claimed by a previously unknown group called the Informal Federation of Anarchists.

Italy's right-wing media were quick to see the outer fringes of the anti-globalisation movement as a home and cover for those advocating revolt against "the imperialism of the multinationals".

Sergio Segio, one of the founders in the 1970s of a far-left group, told the French newspaper Liberation: "The Red Brigades, in a manner typical of very small groups, coexists in the anti-global movement and has infiltrated their grassroots groups."

Others reject the idea. Alberto Franceschini, who founded the original Red Brigades with two others and served 18 years in jail, said: "The anti-global movement is the only one around, but it is pacifist. In the declarations of [Nadia] Lioce I see total delirium. Others have simply ripped off our name - we were stupid not to copyright it."

Rosanna Rossanda, co-founder of the independent communist daily Il Manifesto, also derided the idea. She said: "The anti-global movement is of great interest in a world crushed by consumerism, but it is not even anti-capitalist.

"It is against the unjust distribution of resources ... you had the Black Bloc at the Genoa meeting of the G8 who smashed some ATMs, but terrorism is another matter."