Social War in Italy-March 1978



Turin: Only five out of one hundred and nineteen people agree to be jurors in the trial of the BR “historic nucleus”. The trial will still be held on the 9th of March, and the vacancies will be filled on March 9th and successive days in the presence of the defendants. A protest of about three hundred people organized by Lotta Continua parades through the city center in protest of the public order measures associated with the trial. On the 2nd one of the five remaining jurors reneges on their participation after receiving a threatening phone call.

Aosta: Beginning of the trial of Giuliano Naria, alleged BR member, and the only defendant accused for the Coco ambush. In Aosta he faces charges of false imprisonment, illegal firearms, and false documents. Following the Aosta trial, the charges of “participation in an armed gang” are dropped, and the prosecutor Rizzo requests acquittal on grounds of insufficient evidence. Turin prosecutor Witzel is however convinced that Naria is a part of the BR and he will be indicted for the killing of Coco and his bodyguards.

Milan: A group of extreme left militants break into a electronics center and destroy it by splashing sulfuric acid.

Milan: Meetings, leafleting and road blockades by middle and high school students in protest of a judgment by the Court of Milan sentencing two militants of the MLS (Movimento Lavoratori per il Socialismo) to ten months of imprisonment.


Naples: Two students, a girl from Aquila and a boy from Potenza are injured when a bomb they are packing explodes. The explosion occurs in a Vico Consiglio apartment, where the police recover propaganda material.

Turin: Attack on the home of attorney Roberto Manni. Former DC councilman, later to be interim head of the Turin bar following the execution of Croce. Two charges of TNT explode but fail to cause significant damage. The attack is claimed in a phone call by the Red Brigades.

Rome: Radio Onda Rossa and Radio Città Futura are placed under suspicion in a report sent by the Digos to the Public Prosecutor’s office for having “provided operational guidance of a militant character to demonstrators”. According to the Digos, the content of the transmissions of Onda Rossa and RCF on protest demonstrations cannot be considered part of the right to news and information but instead represents “incitement to delinquency and to disobedience of the laws of the State.”. The Public Prosecutor opens a judicial investigation.


Naples:During a worker’s conference organized by the PCI, Giorgio Napolitano stresses to the workers the necessity of accepting the sacrifices required for economic austerity due to the particular moment the country is undergoing.

Ribera: Arson attack against a local MSI office.

Modena: The advertising agency of the newspaper Resto del Carlino is damaged in a bomb attack.

Cosenza: Arson attacks are carried out against a DC office and the city hall. Minor damage.


Rome: Conclusion of the trial against nine students of the extra-parliamentary left accused of the violence in the student dormitories (May 14th 1977): seven convictions and two acquittals. Three of the main defendants are denied provisional liberty by the judge. Protest in court following the sentencing. A witness, PCI militant Renata Parisse, was attacked on her return from class.

Rome: Francesco Anselmi, militant of fascist paramilitary group Ordine Nuovo, is shot by the owner of a gun store in an attempted robbery.

Rome: Two hours of clashes between police and left wing demonstrators in the Appio neighborhood following the funeral of Roberto Scialabba a young man killed on the 28th of February in circumstances which are obscure according to the police. His parents and friends assert he was killed by fascists.


Lambrate: Molotov cocktails thrown into an Innocenti car lot. The action is claimed by the “Armed Proletarian Nuclei”.

Arluno: Arson attack on the home of Dr Sachsel, DC council member and militant of the Movement for Life.

Rome: Incidents occur at the University of Economy and Commerce between the PCI associated League of the Academic Unemployed and militants of Autonomy. PCI militant Goffredo Bettini is seriously injured by a blunt object.


The National Council of Public Education, approves a unified document on the problem of violence in schools, its causes and its remedies. The document is divided into five parts: the motivation for violent phenomena; the response which must be made; a call to those who have responsibility in the life of democratic institutions to resolutely censor violence and criminal acts, through the political isolation of those responsible; the immediate causes which feed the rebellion of the world of youth; proposals for the elimination of the phenomena of subversion. There is only a single abstention by Buffardi of the PDUP.

Milan: Fascists break into a house occupied by extreme-left militants and try to set it on fire.

Sassari: Incidents between autonomists and workers on strike. Five injured.


Turin: Beginning of the BR trial. The defendants are fifteen from the “historic nucleus” of the BR with a smattering of other defendants ( prisoners, fugitives, and at large), forty nine in total. The fifteen are:

Renato Curcio, Alberto Franceschini, Nadia Mantovani, Pietto Bassi, Pietro Bertolazzi, Tonino Paroli, Alfredo Buonavita, Angelo Basane, Maurizio Pelli,Roberto Ognibene, Paolo Maurizio Ferrari, Giorgio Semeria, Arialdo Lintrami, Vincenzo Guagliardo and Giuliano Isa. On the 8th following a long meeting between Renato Curcio, Alfredo Buonavita, Nadia Mantovani and Alberto Franceschini and defense attorney Giannino Guiso, he summarizes the position of the BR militants: the accused consider the trial without interest from a judicial perspective but valid as a moment of struggle.

Milan: A powerful explosive device seriously damages the headquarters of the traffic police on Via Saprio. The action is claimed by the “Armed Proletarian Nuclei”.

Rome: Press conference organized by Autonomy in the student dormitories on Via De Lollis. The conference is held by the “Off Campus Struggle Committee”. The autonomists challenge the accusations of the PCI on the incidents in the Economy and Commerce university and on the attack against Renata Parisse and deny responsibility for aggression.

Trieste: Arson attack on a local university cafeteria.


Turin: Rosario Berardi counter-terrorist police sergeant is gunned down at a transit stop near his home by a commando of three men and a woman who flee the scene in a car. The action is claimed by the BR with a telephone call to Ansa in Turin. Later the claim of responsibility is first denied, then reconfirmed , then denied once again. With another telephone call, an individual who claims affiliation to the nuclei of the BR in Genoa, Venice and Milan, disassociates from the attack, and suspects Curcio and the comrades in jail of this initiative of personal communication and state that this could harm their work.

Finally another telephone call allegedly from the central nuclei of the BR in Turin, denies any responsibility for the attack. The next day a flier appears claiming responsibility with the signature “Turin Column Mara Cagol”. In the BR trial, four attorneys nominated for the defendants Ognibene, Mantovani and Pisetta, on the first day, refuse to carry out their duties. President of the court Barbaro initiates a lottery to find new attorneys.

Milan: A bomb explodes in front of the HQ of the traffic police in the Magenta neighborhood. Two police vans and the windows of the building are destroyed. The action is claimed by the “Armed Proletarian Group” in a telephone call to the Corriere della Sera.

Milan: Giovanni Battista Miagostovich is released after six years in prison. Accused of BR membership he rejects this label and declares himself simply a communist militant.

Rome: A bomb explosion damages the “Arditi d’Italia” gymnasium in Via delle Sette Chiese.


Turin: In the BR trial, the defendants issue communique no.9 which among other things states with regards to the execution of Beradi: “We interested in making it clear that this action should not be seen as a reprisal directly linked to the trial. In fact it is instead a success which forms part of the line of attack on the nerve centers of the imperialist State.”

Rome: Bomb attacks damage two DC offices, two carabinieri barracks and a parish hall. The five night time attacks are claimed by the “Francesco Lorusso Armed Communist Nucleus”.


Padua: Two Molotov cocktails are thrown at the Istituto Sacro Cuore on Via Belzoni.

Rome: Two leftist students are assaulted by a group of fascists in the Prati neighborhood.


Venegono: Arson fire destroys warehouse of the metalwork company Bassani Ticino. The action is claimed by the “Communist Combatant Unit”.

Trento: Scores of posters signed by the BR are found on the walls of the city center. Referring to the Turin trial the posters state that the proletarian revolution cannot be put on trial or killed.

Turin: In the BR trial, Paolo Maurizio Ferrari attempts to read communique no.10, but is unable due to continual objections. After the delivery of the communique, Ferrari leaves the court room with the other BR militants, except for three who remain behind, saying: “we have left three comrades of our organization as observers of your counter-revolutionary activity.”

Albano: the entryway to a Catholic club is torched.

Rome: High school teacher Angelo Rossi is attacked and beaten with iron bars by fascists.


Naples: Clashes between police and striking hospital workers.


Rome: Ambush of Moro and his security detail by a commando of the Red Brigades. Telephone calls to press organs in Rome, Milan, Turin and Genoa claim responsibility: “this morning we have seized the president of the DC and eliminated his security detail, Cossiga’s “elite squad”. Communication will follow. Red Brigades.”


Rome: Police detain the 28 year old Gianfranco Moreno suspected of complicity with the BR. Later he will be cleared of involvement. The Interior Ministry issues twenty photos of alleged BR militants wanted for the capture of Moro, two of whom are found to be already in prison.


Rome: The BR issues Moro action communique no.1. Moro is defined as the undisputed “theorist” and “strategist” of the DC regime which has oppressed the people of Italy for thirty years: “the transformation in the European area of the outmoded nation States of the liberal type into the Imperialist States of the Multinationals (SIM), is also fully ongoing in our country…It is through the transformation and “renewal” of the Christian Democratic machinery of power, and it is through this new regime which must march towards the reconversion of the nation State into an efficient link in the imperialist chain able to impose the vicious economic policies and the profound institutional transformations with a openly repressive function demanded by the strong partners in the chain: the US and the FRG..”.

Milan: Two nineteen year old working students sympathetic to the far left, Lorenzo Jannucci and Fausto Tinelli are shot dead by fascists who claim responsibility as the “National Revolutionary Army-Combatant Brigade Franco Anselmi”.


Rome: Eros Sabellini local PCI secretary in Via Cavour is attacked and beaten by five Stella Rossa militants.


Turin: In the trial against the members of the historic nucleus of the BR, the defendants shout “Moro is in our hands” in the court room.

Trieste: Six Molotov cocktails are thrown at the newsroom of the daily Il Piccolo. The action is claimed by the “Organized Proletarian Nucleus”.

Rimini: Clashes between police and far left militants who parade with a effigy of Moro.


The government approves new measures against terrorism. Penalties for kidnapping and ransom related offenses are to be increased. All apartment owners are mandated to inform police within forty eight hours of sales or rentals.


Turin: The Court rejects the application of the BR militants to defend themselves.

Novara: Police arrest a woman named Brunhild Petramer. But she is released after it becomes clear she is not involved with the Moro action.

Milan: Arson attack on a SIP car lot. Significant damage.


Some ministers meet with the secretaries of the majority parties to define arrangements for streamlining the recruitment of officers of public security. Agreement in principle is also reached on the reform of the PS.


Turin: A commando of the BR shoots Giovanni Picco, formerly the DC mayor of the city, wounding him in the leg and shoulder.

Caserta: Violent clashes between militants of the MSI’s Youth Front and extra-parliamentary left militants. Danilo Russo, 19 years old is seriously wounded in a stabbing.

Rome: Serious incidents in the city center between police and militants of Autonomy, despite the police ban on demonstrations. Two offices of the DC are attacked with Molotovs.


Communique no.2 of the BR is found in Turin, Rome, and Milan and published the following day. It observes: “The party of Berlinguer and the collaborationist unions have the task (to which they now appear to be completely adapted) of functioning as an anti-worker police apparatus, as snitches and spies of the government. The capture of Aldo Moro, in which the entire bourgeois camp recognized the substantial value of the accomplishment of this objective has done nothing but put this reality in macroscopic relief.”

The communique closes by stating “Honor to the comrades Lorenzo Jannucci and Fausto Tinelli murdered by the assassins of the government.”

Milan: Three fascists attacked and severely beaten by left militants on Via Lincoln.


Rome: Some DC activists are attacked and beaten while putting up posters.


Nuoro: Firebomb attack on carabinieri prisoner transport vehicle. The action will be claimed the following day by Sardinian BR aligned guerrilla group Barbagia Rossa and is the first claimed by this organization.


The BR issues communique no.3. According to the communique: “The interrogation is ongoing with the complete cooperation of the prisoner. The information which we have received, once verified, will be made known to the revolutionary movement, which will know how to put it to good use in the ongoing trial of the government, which has been opened throughout the country by the initiative of the combatant forces, Aldo Moro is perfectly aware that he is at the top of the hierarchy of this government…”. The communique attacks the “Berlinguerists” for the “infamous role they have assumed, of snitching, espionage and police profiling in the factories.”


Genoa: Fire bomb attack on the cars of DC leaders Gamberini and Sibilla

Sources used:

Contributo per una STORIA DOCUMENTALE DELLE BRIGATE ROSSE con DVD contenente i documenti citati: 2a edizione aggiornata e corretta. Paolo Dorigo, Edizioni Lavoro Liberato,2008.

Venti anni di violenza politica in Italia: 1969-1988 : cronologia ed analisi statistica : una ricerca ISODARCO: ISODARCO.Università degli studi La Sapienza, 1992.