The Red Brigade is still poisoning relations between France and Italy –

French justice opposed at the end of June the extradition of ten former Italian far -left activists, particularly the Red Brigades, whom Italy had claimed for their role during the “years of leadership”. This case has poisoned relations between the two countries for forty years.

In 1978, Italian Christian Democracy leader Aldo Moro was kidnapped and then killed by the Red Brigades. This event marks the end of fifteen years of terrorist acts in Italy, the famous “lead years”, between the late 1960s and the early 1980s.

During the violent social struggle, the “lead years”, marked by a rise between the ultra-right and ultra-left comprised of many revolutionary groups, including the Red Brigades, resulted of more than 360 deaths attributed to both sides. , thousands injured, 10,000 arrests and 5,000 convictions.

In March 1978, the Red Brigade kidnapped Aldo Moro, the president of Christian Democracy in Rome during his “years of leadership”. [AFP]

In the spring of 2021, after months of negotiations, French President Emmanuel Macron decided to promote the implementation of the extradition requests of two women and eight men, who have lived in France for more than thirty years. These ten activists, now aged 61 to 78, are wanted in Italy.

>> Read again: Italy wants to recover thirty people convicted of terrorism, including a Swiss

They were all sentenced, often in absentia, to very heavy sentences, sometimes even for life, for attempted kidnapping, involvement in the killings of police officers, magistrates or business leaders in the 1970s and 1980s.

The “Mitterrand Doctrine”

All of them, however, believed they were protected by the “Mitterrand doctrine”. French socialist president François Mitterrand (1981-1995) really did not want to extradite former activists who violated their past.

“When François Mitterrand led his campaign for the presidency in 1980, he suggested, in several speeches, to welcome the former Italian terrorists of the 1970s, especially the Red Brigades. Instead, they should be handed over. their weapons, reject violence. and be wise. (…) These are the words given that were never formalized, but followed by his successors “, summarizes Grégoire le Quang, professor of contemporary history at the Catholic Institute of Paris, Monday on the RTS program Tout un monde.

>> Also listen to the interview of former Italian Red Brigades leader Giovanni Senzani at the Forum:

The former leader of the Italian Red Brigades looks back on his journey / Forum / 11 min. / January 13, 2016

Arrests in 2021

But Italy has never stopped demanding these extratitions. Emmanuel Macron would eventually violate the Mitterrand doctrine. French justice has a specific number of arrests in 2021, awaiting a decision from the Paris Court of Appeal. “This is a historic moment in Franco-Italian relations” and “an awareness of France, after years of procrastination, albeit a complacency, of the trauma of the lead years”, welcomed the Elysée at the time of arrests.

Emmanuel Macron “wants to settle this issue. These arrests completely close this file”, the Republican presidency added.

>> Read again: Seven former members of the Italian Red Brigades have been arrested in France

However, at the end of June, the investigating chamber of the Paris Court of Appeal issued an unfavorable opinion on their surrender to Italy, relying on respect for the right to private and family life and on respect for the right to a fair trial. , referring to the European Convention on Human Rights.

“The doctrine of Mitterrand plays a role in restoration”, estimates Ludmila Acone, an Italian specialist historian. “Everyone who complied with it laid down their weapons. All this must be put in a historical context. There is a long tradition, not only in Italy, of protests, including attacks.”

“Romantic Vision” of the Years of Leadership

But Grégoire le Quanq qualifies: “On the French side, we sometimes have a romantic view of the Italian armed struggle, saying that the State is also raising the level of confrontation. All this ignores the fact that the groups, especially the Red Brigades and Prima Linea, seek to ignite a civil war through killing targets that are also intended to mobilize the proletariat. “

According to the teacher of contemporary history, this did not work. “In the 1970s, the more violent and bizarre crimes, the more the working class separated itself from terrorist groups.

Italian newspapers, left and right, took the decision of the French courts unfavorably to refuse the extradition of some former members of the Red Brigades. [VINCENZO PINTO - AFP]Italian newspapers, left and right, took the decision of the French courts unfavorably to refuse the extradition of some former members of the Red Brigades. [VINCENZO PINTO – AFP]

The vox populi was strengthened after the Paris Court of Appeal refused to extradite these former militants, former terrorists. Italian newspapers, left and right, took France’s justice decision unfavorably. “There is always a bias towards the Italian legal system, a distrust that then allows all expatriates, all Italian refugees, who for twenty to thirty years have found refuge in France , to burn and the popularity of an account about the lead years and the era of terrorism in Italy, without basis. There is nothing revolutionary about these people “, explained Carlo Bonini, vice-director of the newspaper” La Repubblica “.

However, the case of Cesare Battisti somewhat damaged the “romantic” interpretation of this period. The former terrorist, who has long lived in France and is admired by many intellectuals, was imprisoned in Italy after a long time. And he finally confessed to committing the homicides for which he was convicted.

A lawsuit was filed

Carlo Bonini criticized a form of complacency, even hypocrisy on the part of French justice, if it was brutal against Salah Abdeslam, during the trial of the November 13 attacks: “When France began to be hit in terrorism, it has adopted anti-terrorist legislation that is strongly inspired by the laws of our country. ..). “

>> Read also: Salah Abdeslam was sentenced to life imprisonment

And to add: “I’m a man on the left, I’m not a conservative or a reactionary. But that doesn’t stop me from thinking that this period in our history deserves a completely different historical and political judgment. ” An opinion shared by some victims in Italy. In April 2021, journalist Mario Calabresi, son of a police commissioner killed in 1972 in Milan, summed up his bad feelings about the arrest of a 78-year-old man, who was convicted of participating in the murder of his father.

On Italian television, he explained that because they had “benefited from impunity, and that they had not been paid for their actions, they could give a piece of the truth, say something about these years that had frightened Italy. “.

“Zones of delinquency don’t exist for murderers,” he also tweeted, “but I can’t find satisfaction in watching an old and sick person imprisoned for so long” the facts.

Francesca Argiroffo/vajo with dpa

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