Thursday, June 01, 2006

Adriano Sofri

The new Italian government has announced it will grant a pardon to Adriano Sofri, a founder member of the Italian Lotta Continua (Continuous Struggle). Sofri was one of three people accused and convicted of the 1972 shooting police inspector Luigi Calabresi.

Calabresi had been in charge of the police investigations into the horrific bombing that took place in Milan's Piazza Fontana in 1969. Only days later the anarchist railway worker Guiseppe Pinelli was thrown from a police station window following interrogation. It has gradually emerged that the bombing, was part of a deliberate "strategy of tension" in which rogue elements in the Italian security services combined with neo-fascists to carry out a series of bombings which would be blamed on the left, and justify a "crack-down" by the state. This "strategy" was intended to emulate similar events in Greece, which culminated in the coup by right-wing Colonels.

Pinelli's death became the subject of Dario Fo's play Accidental Death of An Anarchist, in which Calabresi became an object of ridicule. Calabresi was subsequently tried for Pinelli's murder but acquitted. In 1988 Sofri, together with Ovidio Bompressi and Giorgio Pietrostefani were accused of Calabresi's murder by a police infomer, and in spite of many inaccuracies in his testimony the three accused were sentenced to 22 years in prison. Sofri has always maintained his innocence and his case became a popular cause, and the subject of several books including one by historian Carlo Ginzberg: The Judge and the Historian. The guilty
verdict was overturned at appeal in 1993, but reinstated the following year, and legal proceedings continued until the year 2000.

Sofri, a respected journalist who reported on events in Sarajevo when the city was under seige, also helped negotiate the release of hostages in Chechena while in prison, and became a media celebrity, giving television interviews from his cell and writing about football. Here is a short piece he wrote about life in prison: