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Last Updated: Friday, 5 September, 2003, 14:38 GMT 15:38 UK
Euro parliament seeks journalist's freedom
Irene Peroni
BBC Monitoring

Adriano Sofri
Amnesty International doubts Sofri got a fair trial
The European Parliament has called on Italy to review the case of a left-wing intellectual and renowned journalist jailed for the murder of a police officer 30 years ago.

Its annual report on human rights says that prisoners who actively contribute to the social and cultural life of their country should be freed - and it cites the case of Adriano Sofri as an example.

A heated debate on whether he should be pardoned is already under way in Italy.

The writer is currently serving a 22-year prison sentence after being convicted six years ago of ordering the killing of a police commissioner in 1972.

Since his first arrest in 1988, he has always protested his innocence.

Politicians and intellectuals of all colours, including Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, have praised Sofri's outstanding work as a political and social commentator, and called on President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi to pardon him.

But Justice Minister Roberto Castelli, of the far-right Northern League, opposes the initiative.

Mr Castelli recently said that he would rather see Sofri freed as part of a wider amnesty involving former far-left as well as far-right extremists jailed during Italy's terrorist years, the 1970s and 80s.

Death of an anarchist

Police Commissioner Luigi Calabresi was shot dead at close range outside his home in 1972.

He had been investigated a few years earlier in connection with the death of an anarchist, who fell from a Milan police station window during questioning.

The day after Calabresi's killing, the newspaper of "Lotta Continua, a far-left movement headed by Sofri, carried the headline "Justice has been done".

Seventeen years later, after a total of seven trials, Sofri was convicted of the murder along with two other fellow militants, Ovidio Bompressi and Giorgio Pietrostefani.

Sofri, 61, is the only one serving his term: Bompressi has been granted house arrest on health grounds, while Pietrostefani fled to France.

Amnesty International has repeatedly objected to the "the excessive length" of the proceedings against Sofri, and raised "serious doubts" about their fairness.

It says the verdict relied on the "uncorroborated evidence" of a former militant of Sofri's group who turned state witness.

The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg dismissed an appeal by Sofri last June.

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