Italian Government Refuses to Negotiate with Captors
Aldo Moro was a two-time Prime Minister of Italy and a great social and economic reformer for the country. He served as the prime minister from 1963 to 1968 and again from 1974 to 1976. He was the leader of the left leaning Christian Democracy Party which lead Italy continuously from the end of World War 2 until 1981.
On March 16, 1978, Moro, no longer in government, was travelling in a two-car motorcade on Via Fani in Rome. He was headed to meeting of the Chamber of Deputies where there would be a discussion to gain the cooperation of the more moderate members of the Communist Party of Italy for the current government. His convoy was blocked by members of the Red Brigades, a hardline communist group opposed to the compromises espoused by Moro.
After Moro’s motorcade came to a stop, Red Brigade members emerged from their vehicles, guns blazing. Moro’s five bodyguards were murdered and the former prime minister was whisked away in a waiting Fiat 132 being used by the communist terrorists. Moro was gone in seconds, kidnapped and taken to an unknown location.
Red Brigades had demands in exchange for the release of the respected politician. They demanded that the Italian government release Communist prisoners. Many believed that their real motivation was to drive a wedge between the Communist Party and the Christian Democrats.
The Italian government refused to negotiate with the Red Brigades. Police were mustered and raids took place throughout Italy in a desperate attempt to locate and rescue Moro. Government officials debated allowing the torture of Communists believed to be involved or have knowledge of the plot. They decided against torture even though traditional means of investigation were turning up no leads.
Soon letters began to arrive from Moro himself. He wrote government officials and Pope Paul VI asking that they comply with the kidnappers demands. The requests were not honored, as most surmised they were written under duress and did not reflect Moro’s true views.
When the Red Brigades realized that the government would not concede, they held a mock trial of Moro. At the kangaroo court, Moro was found guilty and sentenced to death. A deadline of May 8th was set for the release of prisoners. On May 9th Moro was put in a car. Moro was apparently told that he was being taken to a new location an a blanket was placed over his body. One of the kidnappers then proceeded to shoot him ten times, killing him. The body was placed in the trunk and the car was left on a side street in Rome to be found later in the day.
Although several arrests were made, the whole story behind the kidnapping and murder are still a mystery. Mario Moretti confessed to the killing itself and was given six life sentences. In a typically European move, he was paroled in 1998 after serving just 15 years.