The Bologna Massacre

Other | Wednesday 12th December 2018 | Deidre

The northern Italian city of Bologna is home to Italy’s deadliest terrorist attack. What has become known as the Bologna Massacre occurred on the morning of 2nd August 1980 at Bologna’s Central Station.

Unbeknown to the collection of local residents, staff and tourists, a bomb had been planted in a suitcase amongst them in a waiting room at the station where many passengers had taken refuge in effort to avoid the summer sun. At 10:25am an explosion ripped through the station, indiscriminately claiming the lives of 85 people, the youngest casualty being that of a three-year-old. In addition to the fatalities, a further 200 individuals were injured in the attack which despite early suspicions that it was an accident perhaps caused by a gas explosion, was eventually linked to an Italian neo-fascist terrorist group known as the Armed Revolutionary Groups (NAR).

For the families of the victims, seeking justice has been quite the rollercoaster as there has been plenty of twists and turns in prosecuting those responsible. In 1988, 13 people were tried and convicted for their part in the attack, bringing some solace to the families. However, in an appeal two years later they were acquitted.

A new trial in 1993 led to the conviction of multiple NAR members but it is unlikely that all who was involved in the massacre have been prosecuted.

The NAR has never claimed responsibility for the bombing and a variety of conspiracy theories surround the attack, including a theory that the attack was masterminded by a coalition of politicians, secret service agents and the extreme right wing. This theory is given weight by the fact that Bologna was a city with unwavering support for the Communist Party.

An alternative theory is that the massacre was a ‘false flag’ attack. These attacks are usually initiated to deceive people and disguise the true perpetrators of the crime who in these cases tend to be seen as the victim. This argument points to Italy’s communists as the culprits for the massacre, arguing that by attacking a communist stronghold, the right wing would naturally be held accountable and the Communist Party would gain the people’s trust.