The cloudy Italy of P2-

“Write everything down”. So said, that day, in a meeting from Milan in connection with Rome, Franco Di Bella. I see everything as if it were yesterday. I arrive in a hurry, out of breath, I have a list of all the names of the P2 members. Roberto Martinelli, who heads the Roman office, intervenes in the connection: “Franco, Franco, we have the list”. The director: “Tell us, tell us”. And I, embarrassed: “You’re there too.” At that point an eerie silence suddenly fell. Tense. Endless. Until he said, “Write everything down.”

Forty years later Antonio Padellaro remembers that phrase as a painful passage in his life, that of all colleagues, of all collaborators. It was a very hard time. Who saw our newspaper on the verge of being overwhelmed by even spurious controversies (No longer tolerable, the new director Alberto Cavallari will write on the day of his inauguration, the defamation campaign involving the entire newspaper), betrayed by a property that for overcoming financial problems had trampled on every decorum, shaken by seeing more colleagues involved in the scandal, left in the collective pain of figures like Enzo Biagi who first rebelled adrift and only years later would he return …

But a passage that marked for our daily life also the precise moment in which the spirit of the group was strongestor, the appeal to remain united, the awareness of the obligation to give readers all possible information. It wasn’t easy. And there was no lack of contradictions. Like the publication of that famous list of subscribers interrupted by continuous brackets: Tizio (he denied …), Caio (he denied …), Sempronio (he denied …). The Courier came out bruised. But he got out. To the point of being able to remember that muddy story today, not only for us, step by step. With honor. Knowing that the readers have been able to distinguish.

Licio Gelli (Ansa / Franco Silvi)

It all began on March 17th 1981, as Judge Gherardo Colombo recalled the other evening a Moving target in an interview with Silvia Frasca, as part of the investigation into the (fake) kidnapping of Michele Sindona, with the search in the villa and in three offices of Licio Gelli in Castiglion Fibocchi: Giuliano Turone and I met at around 10.30 at the bar of the court to have a coffee. We were nervous. We go back to the office and start receiving phone calls from those who did the searches. In a suitcase there are 33 envelopes sealed with adhesive tape with headings such as Rizzoli-Calvi, stock deposit, Calvi-Pesenti reserved agreement, Eni-Petromin contract … Basically, says the investigating judge, inside each envelope was a crime report…. Things that would have opened up various lines of inquiry.

The one that will explode like a santabarbara, for, the list discovered in the safe of the office used in Gelli alla Giole (Giovane Lebole), a clothing company. It contains, as summarized by Paolo Biondani, 962 names of affiliates of the Masonic lodge “Propaganda 2”. There are four ministers, 44 parliamentarians, all the heads of the secret services, the entire top of the Guardia di Finanza, dozens of generals and colonels of the carabinieri, army, navy, air force. More different magistrates. And journalists. Of various publications.

While the searches are still in progress, the first alarmed phone calls arrive. Like that of the General of Finance Orazio Giannini who calls (says it all a deposition in committee P2) Colonel Vincenzo Bianchi: I know you are you have found some lists. I inform you that I am on the lists too … Be aware, there are the highest leaders.

The penetration of the secret lodge into the state is so deep and widespread that Columbus and Turone, having received the documents, decide to protect them from any little hands that could make them disappear. We spent a night photocopying the most relevant ones. And we hid them in the archive of a large room full of files, in one of another judge on the fighting Communist Formations.

When they show up in Rome at Palazzo Chigi because, with the president Sandro Pertini in South America, they would like to warn at least the Prime Minister Arnaldo Forlani, they see the door opened by his secretary, the prefect Mario Semprini, card 544. the confirmation, if it ever needed, of how destined to encounter obstacles, tripping, hostility … Sergio Mattarella explained in an interview with Rai before going up to Colle: It was an alternative power structure to the government and against the government, which was afraid of contacts between the government and the opposition , relationships that could strengthen institutions, because stronger and shared institutions among political forces attenuate and reduce the spaces of undue power.

And gradually the scandal and the wait for the famous list mount, which will lead Forlani to resign (too many silences, postponements, ambiguities …), the figure of the mattress emerges clearer (as defined by those who feared any involvement, starting with Giulio Andreotti) which seemed to have Italy in hand whole. And here comes the bundle card, the filing by the Pistoia police headquarters as a very dangerous fascist, informant of the SS but also informant at the last hour of the partisans …

On top of everything, however, an interview given by the figure to Maurizio Costanzo returns to the surface (I was an idiot, to say contrite to Giampaolo Pansa) and published a few months earlier by Corriere. Interview where, shot at zero on the parties, invoked the death penalty as in the USSR (I understand that there are very rare thefts, robberies, drug dealing …), sworn that his Freemasonry was the only one that admits only believers, he explained that from an early age he wanted to be a puppeteer. A role to which he was seriously nailed by the parliamentary commission of inquiry chaired by Tina Anselmi (who branded P2 as a criminal organization) and by the judiciary. Who recognized the vain fixer and his followers, with a series of convictions and trials, a leading role in some of the darkest events in our history. Including various misdirections including those on the Bologna massacre on 2 August 1980.

Forty years have passed, from the discovery of that list that saw some members pay dearly for it, others get away with a little purgatory, still others throw it into caciara like Silvio Berlusconi who, having dismissed his affair as an accident on the road (When I received the card it was written that I was an apprentice bricklayer and I, who was then a great house builder, could not help but have a big laugh), managed to get the vote of millions of Italians for two and a half decades.

What’s left of that ugly story? The chronicles of events that today seem very distant, but that have had an enormous weight: the Sindona affair, the poisoned coffee, the murder of the bourgeois hero Giorgio Ambrosoli, the rapid climb and the precipitous thud of Roberto Calvi at the Friars bridge Neri, the mysteries surrounding the role of Umberto Ortolani, the doubts about the existence of a confidential list of piduists … List of other members who, unlike the 165 gold bars found in the fixer’s garden, have never been identified …

Tina Anselmi and the parliamentary inquiry

After the discovery, on March 17, 1981, of the list of members of the P2 lodge, it was decided to set up a parliamentary commission to investigate the activities of Licio Gelli and the association of which he was the head. The proposal was approved in December 1981 and the commission became operational in December: the Christian Democrat exponent Tina Anselmi, who had previously been head of the Ministry of Labor, was elected to its presidency. The so-called Anselmi law takes its name from her, which in 1982 ordered the dissolution of P2. The commission concluded its work with a report, presented by President Anselmi and approved by the governing parties, which underlined the damage caused by Gelli’s action to distort the economic and political life of the country.


Licio Gelli’s activities and his connections with high-level politics are reconstructed in the book just released Guilty. Gelli, Andreotti and the P2 from close up, written by the journalist and former parliamentarian Sandra Bonsanti, who at the time dealt with the issue, with Stefania Limiti (Chiarelettere, pages 256, euro 16). An interesting documentation on the whole story collected in another volume published by Chiarelettere, P2 in Tina Anselmi’s secret diaries (new edition, 2018), with the private notes of the Christian Democrat exponent who at the time directed the parliamentary commission of inquiry on the lodge led by Gelli. The recently deceased political scientist Giorgio Galli had set out his interpretation of the P2 case in the book The venerable plot (Lindau, 2007). Also relevant is the reconstruction of one of the magistrates who discovered the list of P2, Gherardo Colombo, in the book reprinted several times The vice of memory (Feltrinelli, 1996). The historian of Freemasonry Aldo Alessandro Mola dealt with the question in the volume Gelli and P2 (Bastogi, 2008). On the possible involvement of P2 in the Bologna massacre: Roberto Scardova, The gold of Gelli (Castelvecchi, 2020).

March 17, 2021 (change March 17, 2021 | 22:59)

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