The Andreotti Affair: 'I have been a victim of shameless lies'

GIULIO ANDREOTTI yesterday sent a nine-page reply to the accusations of the pentiti as an addition to the 66-page legal defence drawn up by his lawyer, Odoardo Ascari, which was presented on Wednesday.

Saying he was the victim of 'machinations', he denied knowing any of the people they named in their statements, except Lima and the other Christian Democrat politicians. He denied Francesco Marino Man noia's allegations of meetings and added 'the already strong protective surveillance of my person by the police and carabinieri since the assassination of (the former prime minister) Moro had been further intensified.

'I was never without surveillance even for a single moment of the day. I have never been in Sicily except for official engagements and always under the watchful protection of the escort systems just mentioned. I had no authority to receive complaints about Mattarella with whom I had no specific links within the party. The episode of this reunion can therefore be classified with one single adjective: false.'

The account of the second meeting was 'also crudely false. I never went to Trapani in civilian aircraft, much less private ones. I never went to Trapani in all 1980, nor at any time except on official occasions when I was subjected to tight police protection and ceremonial protocol.'

It was 'curious' that he should have been warned against special anti- Mafia measures - 'I was not in government at the time. But could it not be a key to reading (a message): the vendetta by the Mafia for what happened later when these measures were adopted by governments presided over by me?

'. . . I don't know why Buscetta is lying so shamelessly. I don't want to suggest theories. The commission is well able to judge for itself. I will restrict myself to one observation: the people who might have confirmed the statements of Buscetta are all dead, and if they are not dead they are rumours from prison 'men of Cosa Nostra', too many, he says, to remember any one in particular. As for a visit to my studio by Badalamenti to intercede about a Rimi strike, my denial is similarly clear and decided.'

Mr Andreotti also denied allegations by Buscetta and other pentiti that the Mafia had offered to try to rescue Moro, but been told that 'someone' did not want him rescued. 'Everything possible was done, at home and abroad, to find where he was held . . . I had no information about Mafia efforts in this field, nor did I take any initiative in that direction.'

The suggestion that he was concerned that secrets about the Moro kidnapping would leak out was 'the height of absurdity and offensiveness'. He said it made it look as if General dalla Chiesa knew secrets and did not reveal them for obscure reasons. 'That is really too much.'

He warned that suggestions of a political plot would end up discrediting all the pentiti indiscriminately and thus endanger the results of the fight against the Mafia. It would blacken the name of General dalla Chiesa and exonerate the cupola, or the Mafia's government, of responsibility for its crimes.

The lawyer's defence sought instead to dismantle evey legal basis for the request to proceed against Mr Andreotti. 'The whole construction (put together by the Palermo magistrates) has the appearance of a theorem in which the guilt of Senator Andreotti appears the point of departure . . . and not the point of arrival.'

Their request could not be met 'because it is not based on facts and circumstances which took place, or have been proved, but which have simply been spoken of' and because the allegations 'have not the slightest logical connection with what is described and imagined in the accusation . . .

'The arguments . . . to support the accusation are contradictory and completely unreasonable, in that rumours or information said to have circulated among Mafia circles or indeed in prisons are presented as proof . . . The methodology of the investigation appears clearly distorted by a preconceived theory, inspired by the anxiety to obtain from those interrogated confirmation of the prejudice that Senator Andreotti collaborated 'not occasionally' to protect the interests of Cosa Nostra at a national level.'

The defence accused the magistrates of having an 'intent to persecute' Mr Andreotti by distributing large numbers of copies of the allegations to the press and television. 'Never has the dignity and reserve of jurisdiction been so openly trampled on. The result is clear: to make any calm and balanced judgement appear reactionary or, worse, mafioso.'

(Photograph omitted)

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