Casalegno, a 61 years old from Turin, deputy editor of the newspaper La Stampa since 1968, was hit on November 16th 1977 in the face with four pistol shots by two killers from the Red Brigades in the entrance hall of the building where he lived. He died after thirteen days of agony. It was the first time in Italy that the Five-pointed Star terrorists shot a journalist with clear murderous intention. The attack – which followed the death of members of the Baader-Meinhof gang in the German prison of Stammhein – was not unlikely. Casalegno, after a series of threats and a bomb at the newspaper, had been protected by a police escort for several days. But a sudden toothache betrayed him. He went to the dentist alone and on returning home he encountered his killers. For a long time Carlo Casalegno was trailed by Patrizio Peci, Vincenzo Acella, Piero Panciarelli and Raffaele Fiore. It was the latter who fired, with the same 7.62 Nagant revolver used to kill Fulvio Croce, president of the Turin Bar Association. “We executed a servant of the state,” claimed the terrorists recalling his column “Our State” in the newspaper. Casalegno was awarded the Gold Medal of Civil Valour on July 29th 1977.
(Source: Unci 2008 with the contribution of family members)
(Updated by Luciana Borsatti – 3 May 2020)
- 1977 – An attack group from the Turin column of the Red Brigades formed by Raffaele Fiore, Patrizio Peci, Piero Panciarelli and Vincenzo Acella determined and carried out the killing of Carlo Casalegno. Raffaele Fiore was waiting for him with Piero Panciarelli in the hall of his building where he returned for lunch, while Peci was guarding the area armed with a machine gun and Acella was at the wheel of the getaway car . Upon Casalegno’s arrival, Fiore calls him to make him turn and not hit him in the back. Casalegno turns and is hit withfour shots in the face. The two Red Brigade members flee convinced that they have killed the journalist who, instead, rescued by his wife Dedi Andreis, was taken in a very serious condition tothe Le Molinette hospital, where he died 13 days later. He left behind his wife and his son Andrea, 33, also a journalist.
- The day after the attack, thousands of citizens took part in a demonstration against terrorism in Piazza San Carlo, while fewer took part in the strike immediately called at Fiat.
- The funeral, on the 1st December, was attended by the president of Fiat Gianni Agnelli and, among the politicians, the secretary of the Italian Socialist Party Bettino Craxi, the leader of the Republican Party Giovanni Spadolini and the then industry minister Carlo Donat-Cattin.
- 1983 – The Casalegno murder was included in a maxi trial against the Piedmont column of the Red Brigade which took place in the summer before the Court of Assizes of Turin. The 62 defendants were charged with seven deadly atttacks with ten victims, 17 assassination attempts and woudings to the legs, six raids or attacks on party offices and barracks, two attempts at massacres, three kidnappings, all carried out over eight years, until the spring of 1980.
- During the trial, the Red Brigade members said that they had decided to kill Casalegno instead of shooting him in the legs (as they had done with Indro Montanelli), following above all a recent article of his entitled “Terrorism and closing of the dens”, in which he argued, inter alia, that against them no new special laws were needed, it was enough to apply those that existed. In the courtroom, the Brigade member turned state witness was quoted by ANSA as saying, “We kept an eye on him for some time. When the campaign against journalists started, the majority proposed to ‘cripple him’. Having read his articles about the end of the Baader-Meinhof gang in Germany – referring to the death in prison of some members of that terrorist group in the previous weeks – we decided to kill him”. But the real reasons – we read on the website of the Italian Association of Victims of Terrorism – were to be found “in the newspaper’s intransigent orientation against terrorism, an orientation which had its most staunch supporter in the deputy editor. Casalegno, while always refusing any form of clandestine armed struggle, was a consistent defender of legality ”.
- The trial ended on the 29th July with a sentence of 12 life sentences and a total of 290 years of imprisonment. Life sentences for Raffaele Fiore and Vincenzo Acella, and eight years for the plea-bargained Peci. Meanwhile, in 1980, Panciarelli had been killed in a police operation.
- Shortly after, on December 19th 1983, the historical leader of the organization, Prospero Gallinari, was also sentenced for “moral” responsibility in the murder of Casalegno, and of four other victims of the Piedmontese column of the Red Brigades in a trial that also took place in Turin. This was his third life sentence, after those for the kidnapping and murder of Aldo Moro and for complicity in six murders in Genoa.
- 1985 – On April 13 the Turin Court of Assizes of Appeal confirmed the life sentences for the Casalegno murder and the other crimes of the Turin column.
- 1986 – On February 17, the judges of the first criminal section of the Supreme Court chaired by Corrado Carnevale, confirmed the appeal sentence, rejecting or declaring the appeals filed by 39 defendants inadmissible.