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Four Convicted Of Mass Murder In Italian Bombing That Killed 85

July 11, 1988 GMT

BOLOGNA, Italy (AP) _ A court on Monday sentenced four right-wing terrorists to life in prison after convicting them of mass murder for a 1980 bombing that killed 85 people at Bologna’s train station.

The attack was described by prosecutors as a neo-Fascist plot to undermine Italy’s democracy.

The court also convicted two defendants of slander: Francesco Pazienza, the ex-financier linked to several criminal cases in Italy, and Licio Gelli, the ex-grandmaster of the secret Propaganda Due (P-2) Masonic lodge.

The lodge allegedly backed right-wing terrorism and its members included politicians, military men and leading industrialists.

But the court, citing insufficient evidence, acquitted Gelli and Pazienza of a more serious charge of subversive association.

The verdicts came after a 1 1/2 -year trial in which 200 witnesses testified.

The Aug. 2, 1980 attack in this northern Italian city injured 200 people and demolished the waiting room filled with holiday travelers at the station.

Prosecutors said the terrorists hoped the massacre would help throw Italy into confusion, paving the way for an eventual rightist dictatorship. They said some of the defendants, who were members of Italy’s secret services at the time of the attack, aided the terrorists.

The jury, led by Judge Mario Antonacci, said the four defendants who received life sentences - Italy’s stiffest penalty - were convicted of mass murder for by carrying out the bombing. They are Valerio Fioravanti; his wife, Francesca Mambro; Massimiliano Fachini; and Sergio Picciafuoco.

Acquitted of the massacre charge for lack of evidence were Paolo Signorelli and Roberto Rinani. Prosecutor Libero Mancusa had accused Signorelli, a professor, of masterminding the bombing.

But Signorelli was convicted of belonging to an armed band - a blanket terrorism charge used by Italian prosecutors - and sentenced to 12 years in prison, and Rinani got a six-year sentence for conviction on the same charge.

In all, eight defendants were convicted and three acquitted on charges of belonging to an armed band. Sentences ranged from six to 16 years.

In addition, 11 defendants were acquitted of subversive association.

Among those acquitted for lack of sufficient evidence of charges of subversive association were Stefano delle Chiaie, a reputed leading right-wing terrorist, and two former officials of Italy’s secret service police force SISMI: Gen. Pietro Musumeci and Col. Giuseppe Belmonte.

After convicting Gelli, Pazienza and the two former secret service officials of aggravated slander, the court sentenced Gelli to five years in prison and the other three to three years each.

Gelli won’t have to serve his sentence, however. Under terms of his extradition last year from Switzerland, he can only be tried in Italy on charges connected to the 1982 collapse of the Milan-based Banco Ambrosiano, Italy’s largest post-war banking scandal. He was already being tried in absentia when the extradition agreement with Switzerland was made.

Pazienza was arrested in New York in 1985 and extradited on charges of fraud in the Banco Ambrosiano case.

The slander charge was based on a 1981 incident, in which explosives similar to the kind used in the 1980 bombing were found on a train at Bologna’s station. The prosecutor contended Gelli, Pazienza, Musumeci and Belmonte misled investigators into concluding the explosives found in 1981 were linked to other rightists terrorists in Italy and West Germany.