P2 masonic lodge goes on trial for conspiracy

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The Independent Online
ROME (Reuter) - The trial of 16 members of the outlawed Propaganda Due (P2) masonic lodge began yesterday after 11 years of investigation by magistrates. Licio Gelli, the former grandmaster of the masonic lodge, faces trial along with 15 other people, including five former generals. The charges include political conspiracy, spying, revealing state secrets and threatening the constitution.

According to the terms of his 1987 extradition from Switzerland, Mr Gelli faces only the lesser charges of slander and false representation. The P2 lodge, a secret society of top politicians, businessmen and military officers, was exposed in 1981. The ensuing scandal brought down the government of Arnaldo Forlani.

The proceedings were adjourned until 22 October. Mr Gelli did not appear at the hearing, held in a special court below Rome's Rebibbia prison. Mr Gelli was sentenced to more than 18 years in prison earlier this year for his part in the 1982 collapse of the Banco Ambrosiano. He remains free pending an appeal.

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