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Trio get life for 1969 Milan bombing

The bank blast killed 16 and wounded 84
The bank blast killed 16 and wounded 84  

ROME, Italy -- An Italian court has sentenced three men to life imprisonment for their role in one of Italy's worst terrorist attacks.

Milan's Court of Assizes convicted Doctor Carlo Maria Maggi, neo-fascist activist Delfo Zorzi and Giancarlo Rognoni of planning and executing the 1969 bombing of a bank in a central Milan square.

The blast killed 16 people and injured 84 others.

A fourth defendant, Carlo Di Giglio, who was alleged to have been a CIA informer at the time of the bombing, turned state's witness and received immunity from prosecution.

A fifth received three years' imprisonment for being an accessory to the crime.

After the verdict, defence lawyers said the sentences were "political."

"It's what we expected: a political sentencing. They have sentenced innocent people," Gaetano Pecorella, lawyer for Zorzi, told Italian news agency AGI.

The bombing of the Banca Nazionale dell'Agricoltura in Milan's Piazza Fontana on December 12, 1969, marked the start of more than a decade of terrorist attacks in Italy.

The bank's clock was stopped at 4:37 p.m. by the explosion.

Hundreds of people died in the so-called "years of lead," with the violence blamed variously on neo-fascists, the extreme left and rogue members of Italy's secret services.

Tensions only began to thaw in the early 1980s.

Saturday's trial, which began in February last year, was the eighth of the Piazza Fontana affair, known as the first of Italy's "state slaughters," with previous trials either called off for lack of evidence or because of fresh allegations.

In previous trials both anarchists and rightwingers have been charged and later released.

The Piazza Fontana bombing has always been linked to controversy.

A few days after the bombing, police arrested an anarchist named Giuseppe Pinelli, who later fell to his death from a police station window during an interrogation that became the basis for Nobel-prize winner Dario Fo's play "Accidental Death of an Anarchist."

That became the start of what prosecutors and the families of victims said was a systematic attempt on the part of the state to cover up the truth and discredit the left.

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