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Thursday, 21 March, 2002, 15:24 GMT
Red Brigades admit killing
Tens of thousands gathered in Bologna to show their respects
Crowds gathered in Bologna to show their respects
Italian police say they are treating as credible an internet document which appears to be an admission by Red Brigades militants that they killed a senior Italian Government aide.


An armed nucleus of our organisation executed Marco Biagi

Internet statement
Marco Biagi, an adviser to the labour minister, was shot dead on Tuesday outside his home in central Bologna by two men on a motorcycle.

The 26-page statement says Mr Biagi, aged 52, was "executed" for his role in drawing up labour reforms, which it described as "regulation of the exploitation of salaried workers".

The assassination has sent shockwaves through Italy, raising fears of a resurgence of political violence, and prompting questions in parliament about the failure to provide Mr Biagi with police protection.

Class war

Mr Biagi's escort was withdrawn after the 11 September attacks to free up agents for anti-terrorism work, and was not restored - despite appeals from Labour Minister Roberto Maroni.

The document posted on the web was signed by the Red Brigades for the construction of a Combatant Communist Party (BR-PCC), which police believe is the second generation of the Red Brigades group, responsible for a wave of killings in the 1970s and 1980s.

Suspicion had already fallen on the Red Brigades, after evidence emerged that the same gun might have been used three years ago to kill another ministry official, Massimo d'Antona, who was also working on labour market reforms.


Democracy is being blackmailed

La Repubblica

This killing was the first sign of the return of the Red Brigades, most of whose leaders were eventually caught and sentenced to long prison terms.

In its statement the BR-PCC vowed to continue fighting Italy's "anti-proletariat project" and threatened to create the "political-military" conditions necessary for a lasting class war.


They have abandoned you

Anonymous call to Biagi
"Democracy is being blackmailed," La Repubblica newspaper said on Thursday.

In a break from a parliamentary debate, a centre-left deputy Pierluigi Castagnetti told Rai radio that Mr Biagi had asked in vain for protection from the Bologna authorities.

"In the country's eyes, we all have the duty of getting clear why not only last October the escort was withdrawn, but why it was never re-introduced," he said.

Fear

Mr Biagi received threatening phone calls, including one that taunted him with the words: "They have abandoned you."

President Carlo Ciampi called for unity and dialogue, and described Mr Biagi as a "scholar and citizen" committed to finding advanced solutions to employment problems.

The proposed reform of Italy's labour laws - some of the most restrictive in Europe - will make it easier to fire workers, and are being fiercely resisted by unions.

A general strike is planned for April, despite a call from Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi for it to abandoned in the wake of the killing.

The authors of the internet document, posted on the Caserta24ore website, portray Mr Biagi's murder as part of a larger battle against "bourgeois imperialism".

They praise the perpetrators of the 11 September attacks against the US, saying that these demonstrate the "need for the forging of alliances between anti-imperialistic forces and revolutionary forces in the regions of Europe, the Mediterranean and the Middle East."

Police hope the killers may have been caught on video as Mr Biagi arrived at the city's railway station, and set off for home on his bicycle.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Nick Hawton
"Witnesses spoke of two gunmen"
The BBC's David Willey
"The Red Brigades have been dormant for years"
Angelo Gennari of Italy's 2nd biggest union the CISL
"We say lets agree and discuss together"
See also:

21 Mar 02 | Europe
Tragedy of a death foretold
20 Mar 02 | Europe
Ghosts return to haunt Italy
03 Mar 02 | Europe
Italy's left confronts Berlusconi
03 Jun 00 | Europe
Red Brigades fugitive arrested
13 Mar 02 | Country profiles
Country profile: Italy
Internet links:


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