Italian adviser 'had death threat'
BOLOGNA, Italy -- The Italian government adviser murdered this week by a guerilla group had death threats and "knew there was a price on his head," his priest has said.
The threats to Marco Biagi were revealed on Friday as senior politicians joined his family and 200 other mourners for a private funeral service.
Biagi's friends and family have expressed anger that his police escort was dropped late last year and not restored when he subsequently received a series of telephone threats.
"He was afraid. He said there was a price on his head and that's why he went to confession often," Biagi's priest, Agusto Tollon, said.
He said Biagi, a university professor who worked as a consultant for Labour Minister Roberto Maroni, had given a sealed document to a lawyer containing details of the threats.
Biagi, 52, was shot dead on Tuesday outside his home in Bologna by two men on a motorbike. The Red Brigades, a far-left terror group, has claimed responsibility for the attack.
Interior Minister Claudio Scajola said the 9mm pistol used in the attack was the same as that used in the assassination of another Labour Ministry adviser, Masssimo D'Antona, in 1999.
Italy's President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, senior politicians and union leaders attended Friday's private service in Bologna after his widow, Marina, reportedly rejected offers of a full state funeral.
"We are all offended and humiliated," Bologna Cardinal Giacomo Biffi told mourners.
He said the murder had been an act of "stupid and incomprehensible rage" and described the killers as "ideologically retarded."
Also among the mourners was European Commission President Romano Prodi, a personal friend of Biagi.
Prodi, a former Italian prime minister, told the Italian press he used to go for bicycle rides with Biagi.
"I want to pay homage to my friend and see the family," he said.
"I am overwhelmed by personal memories and by thoughts about the future."
He said Biagi "worked all his life for dialogue between different parts of society. He never forgot that development and social justice, efficiency and solidarity, must go hand-in-hand."
Pope John Paul has condemned the killing, telling pilgrims at a regular Vatican audience it was "barbarous."
And on Wednesday, thousands of demonstrators held a candle light vigil in Rome calling for an end to terrorism.
Scajola has launched an internal investigation into the decision to withdraw the bodyguards.
"We cannot escort everyone, and I don't believe that bodyguards can guarantee safety in the face of barbarous decisions by the Red Brigades to kill," he said.
In a message posted on the Internet on Thursday, the Red Brigades group said Biagi had been "executed" for his role in drafting controversial labour reforms that will make it easier to hire and fire certain categories of workers.
The original Red Brigades were responsible for a series of murders two decades ago.
Their most notorious act was the 1978 kidnapping and killing of former Italian prime minister Aldo Moro.
Red Brigades justify 'execution'
March 21, 2002
Italians hold vigil after killing
March 21, 2002
Red Brigades claim assassination
March 20, 2002
Rome bomb blast damages cars
February 26, 2002
Top Italian economic adviser gunned down
March 19, 2002
Note: Pages will open in a new browser window
External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive.
WORLD TOP STORIES:
Blix: 'Iraq could do more'
N. Korea warns of nuclear conflict
Serb hardliner refuses to plead
NASA: Flight-deck video found
Caracas tense after bombs
|Back to the top|