Pinelli, nineteen years on

Published in Insurreection Issue Five, 1988

An ex Lotta Continue militant has accused himself and three others of being responsible for the death of Pinelli's executioner, police commissioner Calabresi, in 1972. The question is not whether the four accused are responsible for this act so much as at the time there was a general feeling among comrades that Pinelli's murder had been avenged.
A few weeks ago, an ex Lotta Continua militant, Leonardo Marino, presented himself to a Milan judge and "confessed" to having participated, along with others, in the execution of the political police commissioner Luigi Calabresi 16 years ago.
Comrades will remember that it was Calabresi who was in charge of the interrogation of anarchist Giuseppe Pinelli on December 16 when the comrade "committed suicide" by "falling" out of the top floor window of the police headquarters in Milan. Other elements of the political police and the secret services were also present.
Certainly, it was nothing new then, nor is it now, for police interrogators to use methods of convincing that result in the death of those undergoing them. Not to mention the systematic use of torture of every variety that is used as a matter of course to force confessions out of proletarians.
What happened then in the Milan police headquarters that makes the case of Pinelli particular? One must remember the climate of the times: the events of '68 were still fresh. The Hot Autumn of 1969, where the struggles around the renewal of wages contracts were escaping the control of the trades unions. The anarchists, perhaps more for their potential role as a point of reference in the future than for their real presence in these struggles, had to be presented as scapegoats.
As always when the State sees itself threatened, when the usual methods of maintaining consensus are no longer sufficient, it sets its reserve bodies in motion: fascists, death squads, military coups, etc. In this case it was a combination of fascists and secret services to produce the bomb that exploded in the Banca del Agricoltura in piazza Fontana, Milan on December 12 1969. That same day the chemicals industry union signed the confindustria wages contract, thus breaking the workers' front. The State feared the reaction of the mechanical sector, and needed to create a diversion that would at the same time capture the attention of the whole country, and create a climate of fear aimed at pushing the workers back into the ranks of the trades unions.
That wasn't enough. Public attention had to be turned towards and against the anarchists. Valpreda and two other anarchists were arrested. Pinelli was summoned for questioning and put to silence. In fact Calabresi was already renowned for his interrogation technique: making his victims sit on the window ledge of his room and inviting them to throw themselves down on to the pavement below.
When Calabresi was later executed there was a general sense of relief and vindication among comrades. Pinelli's murder had been avenged.
Now the latest pentito has appeared on the scene, accusing himself and three other ex militants of Lotta Continua: Adriano Sofri, ex national leader of the organisation; Giorgio Pietrostefano, ex director of the servizio d'ordine; and Ovidio Bompressi. The first two, he claims, gave orders for the action to take place, the latter, he claims, was the person who shot Calabresi. All three totally reject Marino's accusations.