Police Say Group Had Planned to Kill Key Government Officials
ROME (AP) _ Five alleged Red Brigades terrorists arrested last week had planned to assassinate several key government officials, investigators said Thursday.
Police on Wednesday charged two of the five with killing an Italian general, and an arrest warrant was issued for another person in that attack.
The investigators told a news conference Thursday that documents seized from the alleged terrorists and their hideout contained a list of targets that included Ambassador Renato Ruggiero, secretary-general of the Foreign Ministry. They said the list also included Antonio Pedone, who served as economic affairs counselor to Bettino Craxi when Craxi was premier; Gen. Giuseppe Piovano, secretary-general of the Defense Ministry until last year; and Carlo Ferroni, president of the national association of construction industrialists. No other details of the alleged terrorist plan were disclosed.
Roberto Conforti, head of the Rome police division that made the arrests, on Wednesday called the roundup ″one of the most important actions in the last few years in the fight against terrorism.″
Francesco Maietta and Daniele Mennella were charged with the March 20 shooting death of air force Gen. Licio Giorgieri and with belonging to an armed band, a blanket charge used against suspected terrorists. Claudia Gioia, Paolo Persichetti and Massimiliano Brari also were charged with belonging to an armed band.
Conforti said Maurizio Locusta, 23, also was charged with involvement in the slaying. Locusta is being sought.
The general was shot by two men on a motorcycle as he was being driven from his office to his home on the outskirts of Rome.
Conforti said Maietta, 26, was believed to be the leader of a faction of the far-left Red Brigades terrorist organization, the Union of Fighting Communists, which claimed responsibility for the slaying.
The faction said Giorgieri was killed because of his connections with Italian research contracts for the U.S. Strategic Defense Initiative for a space-based weapons system, known as ″Star Wars.″
Maietta recently returned to Rome after being arrested in France in 1985 on charges of carrying false documents. Police said he was arrested Friday with Ms. Gioia, 24, a student, in a Rome apartment.
The three others were arrested Friday at their homes. Mennella, 26, worked in the traffic police records division at the Interior Ministry; Persichetti, 25, is a political science student; and Brari, 24, works as a chauffeur for tourists.
Police investigating the Red Brigades on Thursday searched dozens of homes in Liguria and Tuscana in northwest Italy, in Campania south of Rome and on the island of Sardinia, Italian news agencies reported. Florence and Naples were among the cities included in the searches.
Police searching a home in La Spezia, a city on the Ligurian Sea, found explosives, arms, ammunition and Red Brigades literature, the ANSA news agency quoted unidentified sources as saying. It quoted police as saying three people were detained in connection with the discovery.