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Italian report
by Euro Reporter
2012-05-27 09:59:55
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Red Brigades calls for renewed violence

A letter purporting to be from Italy's radical left-wing Red Brigades called on Friday for new attacks against politicians, bankers and reporters, just days after the president warned the country risked a return to the political violence of the 1970s. "The dawn of the new revolution is here," read the letter, which was delivered to Il Giornale in Milan, the newspaper's website said. Il Giornale is owned by former Premier Silvio Berlusconi's brother, Paolo.

It is the second letter in as many days allegedly written by the Red Brigades and sent to the media. Neither has been authenticated by authorities. ANSA news agency received a letter on Thursday purporting to be from the Red Brigades denying responsibility for a bombing of a school in southern Italy that killed a 16-year-old girl. The latest missive blamed the "fascist state" for last Saturday's bombing in Brindisi "to placate the anger of the masses with fear."

A turbulent social climate has developed in Italy as the economic crisis has deepened. There has been a series of attacks on the main tax collection agency in recent months, and an anarchist group claimed responsibility for shooting a senior nuclear industry executive in the leg earlier in May. The letter said the executive's shooting "had reopened the games," listing politicians, in particular from Berlusconi's People of Liberty Party, bankers, and "the journalists that serve" them, as targets. The Red Brigades were responsible for numerous attacks in the 1970s, including the kidnapping and murder of former Christian Democrat Prime Minister Aldo Moro in 1978. The group has been revived several times, and murdered government labour adviser Marco Biagi in 2002. President Giorgio Napolitano warned on Wednesday that Italy risked falling back into the kind of political violence that scarred it during the 1970s.


Berlusconi angles for Italian presidency

Former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi appears to be angling for the role of Italian president - with enhanced powers. Berlusconi, who has been Italy's prime minister three times, said Friday his party will propose a constitutional amendment to allow Italians to directly elect presidents, as France does. Currently, the Italian presidency is mostly a ceremonial post, elected to one seven-year term only by both houses of Parliament.

Like France, Berlusconi said, Italy should make the president the top job, chosen by the party that wins the most parliamentary seats in an election and allowed to serve two terms. Berlusconi said the role of president is not his ambition, ''but there are responsibilities that one cannot avoid."


Return to the years of bloodshed

Thousands of people mark 20 years since the assassination of leading anti-Mafia Judge Giovanni Falcone in Palermo. Italy risks falling back into the kind of political violence that scarred the country during the 1970s, President Giorgio Napolitano said on Wednesday at a commemoration for anti-mafia judge Giovanni Falcone who was murdered 20 years ago. Speaking days after a deadly bomb attack on a school, named after Falcone’s wife, who died with him in a huge explosion set off by Mafia killers on May 23, 1992, President Napolitano said Italy faced a deadly threat to its future.

He warned that organised crime groups could try to profit from the widespread mood of uncertainty and discontent caused by the economic crisis to provoke a return to the kind of bloody upheaval seen in the 1970s Years of Lead. “The Mafia, Cosa Nostra and other forms of organised crime remain a serious problem for Italian society and thus for democracy,” he said at the Ucciardone prison in Palermo, Sicily, scene of a trial led by Falcone of hundreds of mafiosi in the 1980s. “We cannot rule out that they might even try a savage return to terrorist violence bearing the stamp of the 1970s’carnage,” he said. The stark tone of Mr Napolitano’s comments underline the mounting alarm felt by political leaders at the turbulent social climate that has developed as the economic crisis has deepened over the past months.

Italy has lived with the reality of the Mafia for decades but a fresh series of political scandals and attacks on the main tax collection agency have fuelled a loss of respect for the authority of some of the main institutions. At the same time, the shooting of a senior nuclear industry executive this month in an attack claimed by an anarchist group has heightened fears of a return to the political violence carried out by the Red Brigades and other extremist groups. Prime Minister Mario Monti, who also attended commemoration events for Falcone on Wednesday, said the Mafia was still deeply entrenched in Italian life and had moved well outside its original bases in the south to permeate the more prosperous north and beyond Italy.

“It’s an illusion to think that you can beat Cosa Nostra only in Palermo, L’ndrangheta only in Reggio Calabria and the Camorra only in Naples,” Mr Monti said, referring to the three main branches of the Mafia in Sicily, Calabria and Campania. Saturday’s school bombing in the southern town of Brindisi, in which a 16-year-old girl was killed and five other teenagers seriously injured, is still unsolved but it appears not to have been connected with the Mafia, as originally feared. But Interior Minister Annna Maria Cancellieri still branded it as terrorism and the tense national mood hung heavily over the commemoration for Falcone. The death of Falcone and fellow judge Paolo Borsellino, killed just weeks later by a Mafia bomb, caused a profound shock to Italian society and contributed to the downfall of the old Italian political order after the “Bribesville” corruption scandals of the 1990s.

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