Golpe Borghese

Golpe Borghese

The Golpe Borghese (also known as "Tora Tora") was, allegedly, a failed Italian coup d'état that was planned to take place in the night of 7 on 8 December, 1970. It is named after Junio Valerio Borghese, an Italian World War II commander of the notorious Xª MAS unit, the "Black Prince", a hero in the eyes of many post-War Italian fascists. The "coup" attempt became publicly known when the left-wing journal "Paese Sera" titled, on the evening of March 18, 1971 : "Eversive plan against the Republic, discovered far-right plan".Several members of the National Front ("Fronte Nazionale") were arrested and a warrant was served for Borghese. Borghese himself had fled to Spain, and died there in 1974.

The alleged coup

Hundreds of neo-fascist militants, helped by 187 members of the Corpo Forestale dello Stato and other dissident Army soldiers gathered during the night. The planning of the coup included the kidnapping of the Italian President Giuseppe Saragat, the murder of the head of the police Angelo Vicari, and occupation of Quirinale, Ministry of the Interiors, Ministry of Defense and Italian state television RAI. Occupation of Sesto San Giovanni, at that time a workers' town and a stronghold of the Italian Communist Party, was planned by the Army dissidents.Apparently some militants briefly entered the Ministry of Interiors, but Borghese suspended the coup few hours before its final phase.

According to Borghese the neo-fascists gathered for a meeting to organize a protest demonstration against the upcoming visit of president Tito of Yugoslavia, that was later postponed. The meeting was called off because of the heavy rain. [http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F70F12FB3E54127B93C0AB1788D85F458785F9 Prince's Lawyers Deny Charge] , The New York Times, March 22, 1971]

Amos Spiazzi, commander of the Army dissidents, said that the coup was suspended because the Christian Democratic government knew of the coup plan and was ready to suppress the plotters and to declare martial law [Maurizio Dianese e Gianfranco Bettin, "La strage. Piazza Fontana. Verità e memoria", Feltrinelli, 2002, pp.165-169 (ISBN 880781515X).] .

Participants at the semi-clandestine rallies seem to have believed that they were to take part in the arrest of politicians and the occupation of key installations by sympathetic army units. When Borghese late that night called off the coup the presumed plotters, reportedly unarmed, improvised a late spaghetti dinner before returning home. [http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F30B12F93A5F127A93CBAB1788D85F458785F9 Italian Police Track Leftist Terrorists] , The New York Times, March 29, 1971]


On March 18, 1971, the leftist journal Paese Sera titled : "Eversive plan against the Republic, discovered far-right plan".The first arrests concerning the coup attempt were made on the same day. First arrested on March 18 and 19 were Mario Rose, a retired army major and National Front secretary, Remo Orlandini, also a former army major, a real-estate proprietor and close associate of Borghese, and Sandro Saccucci, a young paratrooper. An arrest warrant for Borghese was also served, but he could not be found. [cite news | title = [http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F70C1EFD3A5F127A93C3AB1788D85F458785F9 Rome Police Arrest Another in Alleged Neo-Fascist Plot] | publisher = The New York Times | pages = 29 | date = 1971-03-21] Later arrestees included businessman Giovanni De Rosa and a retired Air Force colonel, Giuseppe Lo Vecchio. [cite news | title = Colonel Arrested on Rome Plotting Charge | publisher = The Times | pages = 6 | date = 1971-03-24]

The investigation into the coup attempt was largely resurrected after Giulio Andreotti became defense minister again. He handed over a report by the secret service in September 1974 to the Rome public prosecutor, and shortly thereafter General Vito Miceli, a former head of SID, was brought into questioning before the investigating judge. [cite news | title = General to Tell of Coup Attempt | publisher = The Times | pages = 8 | date = 1974-10-29] Miceli's interrogation led to his arrest two days later. [cite news | title = General Who Led Intelligence Agency Arrested in Italy | publisher = The New York Times | pages = 5 | date = 1974-11-01] Miceli was sacked of the SID's direction, while the Italian intelligence agencies were reorganized by a 1977 law.


Three trials were started for conspiracy against the Italian state. In 1978, Vito Miceli was acquitted of trying to cover up a coup attempt, Saccucci, Orlandini, Rosa, and others were convicted of political conspiracy [cite news | title = Jail Terms for 1970 Italian Coup Plotters | publisher = The Times | pages = 3 | date = 1978-07-15] , which also included Stefano Delle Chiaie, whose specific role is unclear. According to a 1987 UPI news cable, he had already fled Italy to Spain on July 25, 1970 [cite news | title = Neo-fascist held in isolation to await questioning | publisher = United Press International | date = 1987-04-01] However, according to other sources, including René Monzat (1992), he led the commando which occupied the premises of the Interior Minister. René Monzat, "Enquêtes sur la droite extrême", Le Monde-éditions, 1992, p.84 ]

At the appeal trial in November 1984 all 46 defendants were acquitted because the "fact did not happen" ("il fatto non sussiste). The Supreme Court confirmed the appeals sentence in March 1986. [http://www.misteriditalia.com/golpeborghese/Borghese(Lavicendagiudiziaria).pdf Il golpe Borghese: La vicenda giudiziaria] Misteri d'Italia website]

According to the journalist René Monzat, investigations lasted seven years, during which it was alleged that the "Golpe Borghese" had benefitted from military accomplices, as well as from political support not only from Borghese's National Front or from MSI deputy Sandro Saccucci, but also from other political personalities belonging to the Christian Democracy (DC) and to the PSDI (Italian Social-Democrat Party). René Monzat, "Enquêtes sur la droite extrême", Le Monde-éditions, 1992, p.84 ] According to Monzat, investigations also discovered that the military attaché at the US embassy was tightly connected with the coup organizers and that one of the main accused declared to the magistrate that US President Richard Nixon had followed the preparations for the coup, of which he was personally informed by two CIA officers.

Involvement of the Mafia

According to several Mafia crown witnesses ("pentiti") such as Tommaso Buscetta, Borghese asked the Sicilian Mafia to support the neofascist coup. In 1970, when the Sicilian Mafia Commission was reconstituted, one of the first issues that had to be discussed was an offer by Borghese, who asked for support in return for pardons of convicted mafiosi like Vincenzo Rimi and Luciano Leggio. The mafiosi Giuseppe Calderone and Giuseppe Di Cristina visited Borghese in Rome. However, other mafiosi such as Gaetano Badalamenti opposed the plan, and the Mafia decided not to participate.Stille, "Excellent Cadavers", p. 151-53]

According to Mafia boss Luciano Leggio, testifying at the Maxi Trial against the Mafia in the mid 1980s, Tommaso Buscetta and Salvatore Greco "Ciaschiteddu" were in favour of helping Borghese. The plan was for the Mafia to carry out a series of terrorist bombings and assassinations to provide the justification for a right-wing coup. Although Leggio's version differed from Buscetta's, the testimony confirmed that Borghese had requested assistance by the Mafia.Stille, "Excellent Cadavers", p. 186]

According to the pentito Francesco Di Carlo, journalist Mauro De Mauro was killed because he had learned that Borghese – one of De Mauro's childhood friends – was planning the coup.it [http://www.repubblica.it/online/cronaca/mdemauro/mdemauro/mdemauro.html "De Mauro venne ucciso perché sapeva del golpe"] , La Repubblica, January 26, 2001] it [http://www.repubblica.it/2005/f/sezioni/cronaca/demauromafia/demauromafia/demauromafia.html De Mauro ucciso per uno scoop: scoprì il patto tra boss e golpisti] , La Repubblica, June 18, 2005] [http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4159/is_20050619/ai_n14674642 Revealed: how story of Mafia plot to launch coup cost reporter his life] , The Independent on Sunday, June 19, 2005]



*Stille, Alexander (1995). "Excellent Cadavers. The Mafia and the Death of the First Italian Republic", New York: Vintage ISBN 0-09-959491-9

* (Italian) [http://www.lastoriasiamonoi.rai.it/cms/upload/76.pdf Relazione della Commissione Stragi su "Il terrorismo, le stragi ed il contesto storico-politico": cap. VI, "Il c.d. golpe Borghese"]

External links

*it [http://www.misteriditalia.com/golpeborghese/Borghese(Lavicendagiudiziaria).pdf Il golpe Borghese: La vicenda giudiziaria] Misteri d'Italia website

See also

*History of Italy (1970s-1980s)

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