Victims of Italy’s deadly ‘Years of Lead’ demand justice

Starting in the late 1960s, Italy experienced more than a decade of violence, known as the "Years of Lead". Armed groups on the far right and far left carried out bombings, kidnappings and assassinations. Almost 400 people were killed. In January, after 40 years in exile or on the run, the Italian far-left militant Cesare Battisti was arrested, later confessing to four murders from the 1970s. FRANCE 24's reporters went to meet the families demanding justice for the victims of this dark period.


He's become the symbol of the so-called "Years of Lead" in Italy. After 40 years on the run or living in exile, always denying any guilt, Cesare Battisti was arrested in January in Bolivia and extradited to Italy. Last month, he finally confessed to four murders committed in the late 1970s while a member of the group known as the Armed Proletarians for Communism. For the Milan prosecutor, the confessions come as a victory for the victims.

Battisti's belated confessions, 40 years on, are a reminder that the Years of Lead remain a traumatic period in Italy's recent history.

Bombings, kidnappings and targeted killings

The "Anni di piombo" (Years of Lead) began in the late 1960s and ended in the early 1980s. The student movements of May 1968 gave way to more radical protests, political violence and terrorism - with bombings, kidnappings and targeted killings. Railway stations, trains, public buildings and political rallies were all targeted by bombs. Among the murder victims were trade unionists, magistrates, journalists, policemen and elected officials.

At the root of the violence were armed groups on the extreme left, the best known of them being the Red Brigades. But ultra-right militias also carried out attacks just to blame their opponents - sometimes with the army, police or intelligence services complicit.

In total, it's estimated that nearly 400 people were killed during the Years of Lead. Today, the families of the victims are still demanding justice. They want to ensure that this dark period in Italian history is never forgotten.

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