Premier Promises To Reform Secret Services
ROME (AP) _ Premier Carlo Ciampi promised Monday to reform Italy’s secret services, whose capabilities and integrity are under increasing question as a new wave of bombings hits the country.
Terrorist attacks, many of them unsolved, have plagued Italy for more than 20 years. But events of the last few weeks have heightened widely held skepticism about the quality of Italy’s intelligence. They include:
- The intelligence services have failed to prevent or solve five bombings that have killed 10 people and wounded dozens since mid-May.
- Three high-ranking intelligence officials have been arrested for suspected illicit use of funds, after investigations stemming from Italy’s widespread political and business corruption scandal.
In addition, a high-level secret service official in Sicily was arrested earlier this year after being accused by Mafia turncoats of tipping off mob bosses to police raids.
Last week, on the heels of the most recent bombings, in Rome and Milan, Ciampi lashed out at the inability of the secret services to provide intelligence on who was behind the attacks.
Angelo Finocchiaro, the head of Italy’s civilian secret services, immediately resigned. He already had been under fire for his alleged involvement in a slush fund whose purposes were not known. He gave no reason for the resignation.
Ciampi told reporters he intends to change hiring and training practices and would work with a parliamentary commission that is studying possible reform of the intelligence branches.
The premier spoke at a ceremony to mark the 13th anniversary of the bombing of Bologna’s train station that killed 85 and wounded more than 200. That attack was blamed on right-wing terrorists.
Several right-wing bombings dating back to 1969 are among Italy’s many unsolved cases in which involvement by breakaway intelligence agents has been suspected.
The interior minister, Nicola Mancino, while not ruling out other forces, has put principal blame on the Mafia for the five bombings this year, including one that wrecked part of the Uffizi museum in Florence May 27.
The state has been cracking down harder on the Mafia in the past year. Italy also has been undertaking political reforms and some have suggested that people with vested interests in the old system are responsible for the bombs.
For more than 18 months, prosecutors up and down Italy have been conducting probes of corruption involving Italy’s business and political elite. The probe of the secret service funding is part of the housecleaning.
In one of the latest developments of the probes, a former vice-president of the state energy conglomerate ENI, Alberto Grotti, was arrested, the Italian news agency ANSA reported from Milan. Milan prosecutors are investigating suspected bribes totalling nearly $100 million in connection with the failed marriage of ENI to Montedision, a private chemical concern.