Terrorism on trial

O'Grady, Desmond

Report from Rome TERRORISM ON TRIAL THE RED BRIGADES IN COURT THE RED BRIGADES could intercept police radio communications, handle sophisticated weapons, manipulate the media, falsify documents...

...As Moro was kidnapped after endorsing a Christian Democrat-Communist understanding, it seemed both parties were under attack...
...Recent defeats of leftist extremists have forced many of his followers to reconsider...
...As theater, the trials lack the effectiveness of the Brigadists' trial of Moro and other hostages...
...In the barricaded area around the courtroom, there are checkpoints and a metal detector, but the atmosphere is relaxed...
...He has the greatest difficulty in calling a spade a spade or a killing a killing: rather it becomes merely "expressing violence...
...He was being tried not for his individual responsibilities but for his role...
...Report from Rome TERRORISM ON TRIAL THE RED BRIGADES IN COURT THE RED BRIGADES could intercept police radio communications, handle sophisticated weapons, manipulate the media, falsify documents with consummate skill...
...living with mild Moro for fifty-four days, sharing the same food, the same lavatory, watching him sleep, promising him release, then shooting him around the heart...
...The atmosphere is less formal than in Anglo-Saxon courts...
...His language is more intriguing than his face...
...When the court is not in session, the Brigadists tell 'journalists they are reading their articles and will avenge their lies...
...and the white cement gymnasium which has been converted into a courtroom...
...They seem competent, specialized workers who one day decided to make a revolution...
...DESMOND O'GRADY (Desmond O'Grady is an Australian novelist, dramatist, short-story writer, and journalist living in Rome...
...Such details, like the explosion of a television bulb which made everyone in court duck, enliven the trial which began in April and may not end before October or even the year's end...
...Father Burrell, on leave from Notre Dame University, is currently studying Jewish and Islamic philosophy in Jerusalem...
...the courts where the Italian tennis championships are played in May...
...There was resentment against the physicist Franco Piperno and other leftist intellectuals who tried to move in at the top of the organization without an apprenticeship of violence...
...And why there are still so many: the relatives of those killed by the Brigadists who even in court must hear the arrogance of the hardliners...
...However, both Savasta and Peci maintain the attack was aimed at the Christian Democratic party which Correction: In the June 4, 1982 issue, David Burrell ("Israel's Scandalous Course") was mistakenly identified as rector of the Ecumenical Institute (Tantur) in Jerusalem, a position he no longer holds...
...His brother, Roberto, who was not involved in terrorism, paid a terrible price for Patrizio's decision to recant...
...The Brigadists had contacts with terrorists in other countries, but the organization was Italian-run and financed through kidnappings and robberies...
...It's right that you should worry about others [i.e...
...These are details...
...Savasta has been accused of opportunism, of seeking a reduced sentence with his repentance...
...Many acts of violence during the Moro imprisonment were not orchestrated by the Brigadists but were spontaneous, demonstrating the dangerous degree of support the terrorists had obtained...
...The Brigadists on trial are mostly shortish, compact men...
...Mario Moretti, one of the Red Brigades' leaders, tried unsuccessfully to repair the leaky shower in the Rome apartment from which he ran the Aldo Moro kidnapping and imprisonment...
...Another is that the Red Brigades stole nine cars for the Moro kidnapping - but two were, in turn, stolen from them before the kidnapping of the former prime minister on March 16, 1978...
...On several occasions the judge tried to break through this abstract jargon but with limited success...
...a soccer ground which can hold 80,000...
...But Italian plumbing was too much for them...
...Savasta, 26, was an outstanding student at the classical secondary school in Centocelle, one of Rome's poorer suburbs...
...The white cage for the accused makes the court look like a zoo...
...At the trial he said his masters were Marx, Lenin, and Mao...
...Accused of involvement in seventeen killings, Savasta emptied the sack on his former comrades from the time of his arrest...
...THE GREATEST CURIOSITY concerns those who have repented, particularly Antonio Savasta and Patrizio Peci...
...The slogan "The law is equal for all" is visible but not the crucifix which is found in most Italian courtrooms...
...These illegal activities gradually brought him to the "armed party," those determined-to-be-real Communists rather than the "sell-out" followers of Italian Communist party leader Enrico Berlinguer...
...The only thing which might have saved Moro's life was release of imprisoned terrorists as demanded by the Brigadists...
...In a society which expects ever more dramatic spectacles, the terrorists' "theater of cruelty" has far more impact...
...covered swimming pools...
...Yet the trial is taking place in a zone devoted to big spectacles...
...Appeals made by the pope, Amnesty International, Kurt Waldheim, and Caritas Internationalis had no effect nor did proposed concessions...
...Daily perhaps thirty people, some of them friends of the Brigadists, are in the public seats at the back of the courts...
...The resultant distaste for him colors journalists' description of pale-skinned, bespectacled Savasta as having the face of a "hypocritical seminarian...
...This gave poignancy to Peci's statement that better provisions should be made for terrorists who want to give information to magistrates, "It's difficult to get to talk to magistrates," he stated, "and afterwards the prisoner has to return to share a cell with terrorists who, in one way or another, will convince him not to talk...
...You have to understand that inside the Red Brigades there is a difficult debate, much indecision...
...Handsome, strongly-built Patrizio Peci was head of the Turin Red Brigades before his repentance...
...These are among the quainter episodes to emerge during the current "Moro trial" in Rome...
...riddling magistrates with bullets...
...But have they also seen their ideology as unreal and antihuman...
...The first, for those who have repented, is separated from the others by bullet-proof glass...
...Some are awakening to their humanity: in mid-June, five of the accused renounced terrorism although refusing to give information on their former comrades...
...The prisoners' handcuffs are removed in the cages, they sit on benches and, using microphones which stand outside, address the judge...
...Avoid raising your voice and giving moral judgments...
...Facing certain death is ugly...
...To discourage other Brigadists from talking to the police, the terrorists kidnapped Roberto and, after the same period of imprisonment as Moro, killed him...
...the terrorists identified with the government and the state subservient to "multinational imperialists...
...Already several points about the Moro affair seem to have been established: That Moro behaved with dignity...
...The inhabitants of the courtroom zoo still threaten, still attempt to seize the initiative from the unflurried, greying Sicilian judge Severino Santiapichi...
...The Brigadists' hideout was discovered because those living below, seeing a spreading water stain, summoned the fire brigade...
...It is at the end of a Mussolini-built sports complex on the Vatican side of the Tiber flanking the river...
...Divided from them are rows of tables for journalists, then another four rows for the black-gowned lawyers...
...Proletarian justice" entails kneecapping people as they leave for work...
...There are six compartments...
...It requires an effort to bring to mind that this means, for them, the right to hunt people, try them in secret, and butcher them with no recourse against the sentence...
...They were the words of a man still mentally with the Brigadists, "I'm a simple worker for justice," replied the judge, "and I do my duty respecting the accused's dignity...
...Lawyers visiting terrorists in prison took messages outside to still-active terrorists...
...It is guarded by fifteen hundred police who patrol...
...With his white cotton bib and tasseled black gown, Santiapichi so resembles the actor Vittorio De Sica it seems he has wandered in from central casting...
...those terrorists still trapped in their Marxist-Leninist-sociological verbal prison...
...terrorists] but you have to give us a chance to understand why so many people were killed...
...A white obelisk inscribed MUSSOLINI DUX stands before the Olympic running stadium surrounded by figleafed marble statues of athletes...
...sit in riot cars...
...There is Moro's interrogator, Mario Moretti, heavy-eyed, moustached, an easy man to overlook, which may explain how he acquired a Scarlet Pimpernel reputation before he was picked up in Milan after betrayal by a minor criminal one of the Brigadists had tried to proselytize in prison...
...The green-carpeted courtroom, where basketball was once played, is painted white and illuminated by television arc lights...
...Savasta became angry at Santiapichi's requests for greater clarity, more details...
...Patrizio Peci acknowledges that the Brigadists have had a political-military defeat...
...You should show there's not only scorn for us...
...A similar inability to fix the plumbing had earlier led to the arrest in Pavia of Patrizio Pelli, right-hand man of the Red Brigades' founder Renato Curcio...
...and, submachine guns at neck, prowl the roof of a flanking gymnasium...
...The trial, in Judge Santiapichi's words to Savasta, is to help us understand why so many died, why there were so many victims...
...The "real" Communists believed political ends justified any means...
...And Prospero Gallinari, tall and well-built, whose gold-rimmed glasses contribute to his professorial appearance...
...the terrorists' relatives among the public, waiting for a wave from their son or daughter...
...Remember that no one can bring them back to life...
...But one of his exchanges with Santiapichi suggests otherwise...
...He joined the local Communist party branch and took part in actions such as attacking the local Christian Democratic branch, burning cars, and instigating others to rebel against the middle-class code...
...We're trying to ascertain individual responsibility...
...As in a typical Stalinist trial, Moro's death sentence was implicit in the accusations against him...
...The Brigadists claimed to try him in the name of the people but Moro pointed out he was president of a party which polled twelve million votes...
...Despite his prepossessing air, he is more Caliban than Prospero if the charge of being Moro's jailer and executioner sticks...
...Perhaps they had in mind Peci's words about sharing cells with hardliners...
...You have to respect my human dignity," he protested...
...Savasta was arrested when, in December, police won the release of the American NATO General James Lee Dozier and dealt a decisive blow against left-wing terrorists...

Vol. 109 • July 1982 • No. 13


 
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