“Italy can survive the loss of Aldo Moro; it would not survive the introduction of torture”
Aldo Moro was born at Maglie on 23 September 1916 and rose to become one of Italy’s most influential politicians. He became leader of the Christian Democratic Party and was prime minister from 1963-68 and again from 1974-76. Two years later, he was expected to be named as the new Italian president.
On the morning of 16 March 1978 he was in his vehicle with five bodyguards on the way to meet prime minister Giulio Andreotti when the car was ambushed by 12 terrorists from the Red Brigades. More than 700 rounds were fired and all five bodyguards were murdered. Signor Moro was unharmed but was taken by the terrorists. They demanded the release of 14 Red Brigades members languishing in jail in return for Signor Moro. Instead of negotiating the Italian government assigned 21,000 soldiers and policemen to search for the kidnapped politician.
They looked in vain and the government received photographs of Signor Moro in captivity and he was allowed to write letters to family, friends and to Pope Paul VI. In one he moaned that he felt “a little abandoned by all you”.
Prime Minister Andreotti made many public speeches extolling a tough stance against terrorism. When a member of the security services suggested torturing prisoners to find Signor Moro’s location, head of the police General Carlo Alberto Dalla Chiesa said, “Italy can survive the loss of Aldo Moro; it would not survive the introduction of torture.”
On 15 April the Red Brigades announced that Aldo Moro had been sentenced to death. Three days later the terrorists released a photograph of Moro holding that day’s newspaper to prove that he was still alive. On 5 May the terrorists said that unless their demands were met Signor Moro would be murdered within 48 hours. On 7 May he wrote to his wife for the last time. Two days later Signor Moro’s corpse was discovered in the boot of a car riddled with 11 bullets. The car was parked in Via Caetani near the Christian Democratic Party’s headquarters.
Via Rani, Rome, Italy
Thursday 16 March 1978
Eventually, in January 1983, 32 terrorists, including nine women, were convicted of various charges and sent to prison for life.