Acca Larentia killings

The Acca Larentia killings refers to three deaths that occurred in Rome the evening of January 7, 1978 in which three young activists of the Youth Front of the Italian Social Movement were killed. Two of them had just left the headquarters of the ISM, located on a street known as Acca Larentia in the popular district of Tuscolano, and were busy distributing leaflets to advertise an upcoming concert by Amici del Vento. The third was killed few hours later, during the anti-police riots organized at the site of the killings.

Just out from headquarters, five young MSI activists were fired upon from a group of five or six assailants armed with automatic weapons. One of the youngsters, Franco Bigonzetti, a twenty-year-old medical student, was hit and killed on impact; Vincenzo Segneri, although wounded in one arm, was able to return to the party headquarters – equipped with an armored door – along with two others: Maurizio Lupini and Giuseppe D’Audino, both unharmed. The last of the group, Francesco Ciavatta, an eighteen-year-old student, was wounded though attempted an escape through the stairs located on the side of the party building but, chased by the unknown attackers, was shot once more in the back and left for dead. He died in the ambulance during transport to the hospital.

The news quickly spread in the hours following the attack and an astonished crowd, composed mainly of Roman ISM activists, gathered on the site of the attack which was cordoned off by the Carabinieri. For reasons and circumstances still unclear, riots erupted and required the intervention of police armed with tear gas. The equipment of the RAI journalists on scene were damaged, and the then national secretary of the youth front, Gianfranco Fini, was slightly wounded by a tear gas canister fired by police in the heat of the protest of young and old Roman activists.

In the ensuing chaos, a Carabinieri Captain Edoardo Sivori shot at eye level Stefano Recchioni, a nineteen-year-old political activist and musician, to which the singer-songwriter Fabrizio Marzi dedicated the song “Giovinezza” (“Youth”) in 1979. The young man died after two days of hospitalization.

Three months after the killings and loss of his son, the father of Francesco Ciavatta, committed suicide by drinking a bottle of Hydrochloric acid.

Responsibility for the attack was claimed a few days afterward through an audio tape discovered next to a petrol station charm bracelets, in which a garbled young voice said the following on behalf of the Nuclei Armati di Contropotere Territoriale (Armed Groups of Territorial Counterpower):

« An armed nucleus, after skillfully gathering information and controlling the sewer (referring to the MSI Party headquarters) in Acca Larentia, hit the black rats in the exact moment in which they were leaving to go on with another violent action. Make no mistake comrades, the list is still long. »

For nearly 10 years the investigations did not lead to conclusions: in 1988 it was discovered that the Škorpion submachine gun used in the attack was also used in three killings claimed by the Red Brigades: those of the economist Ezio Tarantelli, of the former mayor of Florence Lando Conti (February 10, 1986) and of Italian senator Roberto Ruffilli (April 16, 1988).

Five ex-militants of Lotta Continua were eventually accused: Mario Scrocca, Fulvio Turrini, Cesare Cavallari, Daniela Dolce e Francesco de Martiis. The latter could not be captured and remained a fugitive, while Scrocca was arrested and committed suicide in his cell the day after being questioned by the judges

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. The remaining three were acquitted for lack of evidence.

The ambush at Acca Larentia generated a further escalation in tensions between extremists and extra-parliamentary militants on both the Left and the Right and contributed to the maintenance of that state of tension that for many years accompanied the history of the First Republic of Italy. According to Giorgio Galli, in line with the Strategy of tension, the possibility that the attack was “sanctioned” for political reasons is not unrealistic.

On January 10, 1979 riots broke out in memory of the killings in the Roman district of Centocelle during which police officer Alessio Speranza – then in plain-clothes – shot and killed Alberto Giaquinto, then seventeen years old. The agent was acquitted of any charges.

On January 7, 2008 a candlelight vigil was held in honor of the victims and all those killed in the Years of Lead, marching peacefully from Piazza San Giovanni crossing via Tuscolana until the place of the shooting – Acca Larentia – where were recalled and remembered the names of the three killed boys whose memories were honored by the activists present.

After “30 years of injustice” (this is the expression used on posters to advertise the event), the mayor of Rome Gianni Alemanno decided to name a Roman road to the three victims, while the previous mayor Walter Veltroni decided to rename a street in honor of Paolo di Nella.

, [dialoghi in controtempo] a film by Kaspar Hauser, 2008, the documentary relate the massacre and the following attack to “Radio Città Futura”, a movement radio based in Rome