Skip to comments.Italy Arrests Seven Red Brigades Suspects
Posted on 10/24/2003 9:42:10 PM PDT by TexKat
ROME - Police raided homes across Italy before dawn Friday and arrested seven alleged members of the radical Red Brigades suspected of the 1999 killing of a Labor Ministry consultant.
Authorities said the arrests struck at the heart of the left-wing terror organization, which sprang back into action a few years ago after more than a decade of silence.
The suspects, officials said, might also have had a role in the slaying of another government adviser last year.
Police arrested three men in Rome and one in Florence, prosecutors said. A woman was picked up in Pisa and another near Sassari on the island of Sardinia. Italian news agencies said a seventh suspect, a woman, was also arrested.
"With this operation the main root of the new Red Brigades has been cut," Interior Minister Giuseppe Pisanu told reporters.
Premier Silvio Berlusconi said the operation could have "deep repercussions" on the organization.
Labor consultant Massimo D'Antona was gunned down near his home in Rome in May 1999. He had been working on labor market reforms that were bitterly contested by unions.
His murder was claimed by an offshoot of the Red Brigades, the leftist group that terrorized Italy in the 1970s and 1980s with shootings and kidnappings.
D'Antona's killing marked the return to action of the terrorist organization after a decade of silence, which had led investigators to believe the group had faded away.
Last year, another labor consultant working on reform, Marco Biagi, was shot to death outside his house in Bologna. Days later the same group, calling itself Red Brigades-Combatant Communist Party, claimed responsibility.
Prosecutors said they were trying to establish whether those arrested Friday might be responsible for slaying Biagi as well as D'Antona.
Bologna Prosecutor Paolo Giovagnoli told a news conference in Rome: "It's possible that some or all of the people arrested today have carried out the Biagi killing as well."
The raids of more than 100 homes spanning six regions turned up telephone cards, cellular phones, CDs, floppy disks and documents, officials said.
The probe stemmed from the arrest earlier this year of an alleged Red Brigade terrorist involved in a shootout on a train, investigators say. That suspect, Nadia Desdemona Lioce, has been in custody since the shooting in which a suspect with her and a police officer also were killed.
Documents, hand-held computers and cell phones that belonged to Lioce and to the other suspect gave clues that eventually led to Friday's arrests, investigators say.
The original Red Brigades became one of the most notorious terror groups in 1978 when they kidnapped former Prime Minister Aldo Moro, holding him for two months before killing him.
Some investigators say there might be links between aging members of the original group and the new guard.
When it claimed responsibility for the Biagi killing, the Red Brigades-Combatant Communist Party wrote a manifesto that used many of the expressions used by radicals in the 70s, including calls for "class war" and denunciations of the "imperialist bourgeoisie."
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