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Twenty-Six Years Later, Details of Planned Rightist Coup Emerge

January 5, 1991

ROME (AP) _ More than a quarter century after the fact, Italians are learning about the details of a planned rightist coup masterminded by the head of the country’s paramilitary police force.

According to previously classified documents published Friday in Italian newspapers, the 1964 plot envisioned the arrest of hundreds of leftist politicians, the seizure of Communist Party headquarters and the takeover of leftist newspaper offices.

According to the newsmagazine L’Espresso, which released excerpts of an article to be published today, American officials were informed in advance of the planned coup. But the magazine did not suggest there was any U.S. involvement.

L’Espresso said a telegram advising Americans of the plot was sent to the commander of a U.S. military base in Verona and to the Defense and State Departments in Washington. It did not say who sent the telegram.

The planned coup was plotted by Gen. Giovanni De Lorenzo, chief of the Carabinieri police, with the aim of blocking Italy’s move to a center-left style of government, according to the reports.

In 1964 the government was headed by a Christian Democratic premier, Aldo Moro, who brought the Socialists into his four-party coalition.

The documents do not make clear why De Lorenzo never went through with the coup, but newspaper reports suggested it was called off at the last moment because he was satisfied the government would not accept certain Socialist proposals.

The plot was codenamed ″Piano Solo″ or ″Plan Alone,″ referring to De Lorenzo’s affirmation that the coup could be carried out by Carabinieri officers alone without involving other forces.

Before serving as chief of the Carabinieri, De Lorenzo was head of a military branch of the secret services. He died more than 10 years ago.

Piano Solo was the subject of an official investigation in 1967, but details were never made public. All documents were classified as secret by the government since the case involved national security.

Premier Giulio Andreotti recently decided to waive the secrecy act for Piano Solo and provide all the documents to parliamentary investigative committees.

He acted after numerous politicians questioned whether there might be a link between the coup plotters and Operation Gladio, a secret Italian guerrilla network formed during the Cold War to counter any Warsaw Pact invasion.

The government has defended the legitimacy of Gladio, but leftist politicians have charged the operation may have been involved with right-wing extremism. So far, no evidence has emerged showing a direct link between ″Gladio″ and ″Piano Solo.″

According to the documents published in newspapers, Piano Solo called for 20,000 Carabinieri policemen to be deployed at strategic sites across the country, mainly in Rome, Milan and Naples.

About 5,000 men were to have moved into the capital, occupying Communist Party headquarters and offices of the state-run RAI television and radio network. Plans also called for them to seize the offices of the Communist Party newspaper L’Unita and the leftist daily Paese Sera.

In addition, 731 leading leftist politicians were to have been rounded up and detained at a military base on the island of Sardinia. The list of their names was not among the documents made public.

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