Swiss Tennis and the Bologna Attack: A Dangerous Investigation

On August 2, 1980, Italy experienced the deadliest terrorist attack of the “years of lead”. At 10.25 a.m. on this summer morning, the explosion in the crowded waiting room at Bologna station killed 85 people and injured more than 200. Check out this new episode of the “Dangerous Millions” series.
Despite the arrest of the far-right “executors” who had planted the bomb, those responsible for this terrorist attack have not all been identified. Forty-three years later, one question remains: who financed this attack?

Episode 2 of the Swissinfo series (see box) shows how the perpetrators of the deadliest attack in Italy’s history not only held bank accounts in Switzerland, but were remunerated via a transfer of five million dollars from UBS Geneva.

To trace the thread of this complex and still sensitive story of the Bologna attack, Marie Maurisse and François Pilet notably went to investigate in Italy, with the families of the victims and those who defend them.

Licio Gelli, the puppeteer

Behind the drama hides one of the most troubled characters in post-war Italy. The “puppeteer” Licio Gelli reigned over a secret far-right organization, a dissident Masonic lodge called P2, for “Propaganda Due”.

The name of Licio Gelli appears in all the Italian scandals of the 1980s and 1990s, from the bankruptcy of the Ambrosiano Bank, whose president Roberto Calvi, member of the P2, was found dead hanged in London in 1982, until the maxi -cases of corruption and illicit financing of political parties. And also until the Bologna massacre.

Italian lawyer Andrea Speranzoni, who has been representing the victims of the attack for almost twenty years, explains how documents lost in the files of the Italian justice system made it possible, in 2018, to prove the involvement of the “master”.

It is thanks to the digitization of justice archives – and above all to the abnegation of the families of the victims – that a simple sheet of paper folded in four, found in the pocket of Licio Gelli during his arrest in Switzerland in 1982, helped prove the existence of the five million dollars paid to the executors.

The document proves that the money transferred to the neo-fascist executors of the Revolutionary Armed Cores, a few days before the attack, came from a numbered account at UBS in Geneva, where Licio Gelli hid 300 million dollars embezzled in the bank Ambrosiano.

“I will die a fascist”
Returning to Italy after his incredible escape from the Geneva prison of Champ-Dollon in 1983, Licio Gelli sank a peaceful retirement in his magnificent home in Arezzo without spending a day behind bars in his country. A few years before his death in 2015, he publicly repeated the mantra that had guided him throughout his life: “I was born a fascist, I fought for fascism, I will die a fascist”.

The Geneva lawyer Marc Bonnant tells how, partly thanks to his talents, the puppeteer was able to use Swiss justice to escape the most serious charges brought against him in Italy, in particular that concerning his involvement in the Bologna attack.

After his arrest in Switzerland, the Federal Court had indeed considered these accusations as “political prosecutions”, preventing Italian justice from trying him for these facts after his extradition.

Show trial

Marc Bonnant remembers the day when Licio Gelli, then on the run and wanted by all the police, gave him an appointment in a restaurant in the center of Rome. From there, the Geneva lawyer took him in his car to drive him to Geneva, where, after a sham trial, the master was able to take advantage of the “carte blanche” offered to him by the Federal Court. .

Back in Italy, Licio Gelli was convicted for his role in the bankruptcy of the Ambrosiano Bank, while avoiding prison thanks to his advanced age. But his direct involvement in the attack could not be proven. For that, the famous “Bologna document” proving this financial link was found too late.

In 2017, the Bologna public prosecutor’s office reopened an investigation into the financial aspect of the attack. The investigation identified four names, including that of Licio Gelli. But all of them died. There can therefore be no trial, conviction or acquittal.

Despite this, Andrea Speranzoni wants to believe that other lawsuits still in progress against certain secondary actors will still make it possible to – finally – shed light on the origins of the drama of August 2, 1980.

This article is originally published on


Previous post Spanish Tennis Campaign: A Deluge of Promises
Next post DGSI Chief Warns: Ultra-Right Violence Resurging