The story behind Moro's kidnapping
and subsequent death
is quite interesting. As noted above, Moro was kidnapped and killed by the Red Brigades
, a radical Italian leftist
group in 1978
. Now, the idea of a former cabinet
member and Prime Minister
being kidnapped and killed is sensational enough, but this story keeps getting better.
But first, a little history. Italy, from 1947-1994 was essentially controlled, on the national level, by a single party, the Christian Democrats (DC). In some parts of Italy, the Italian Communist Party (PCI) controlled local politics, but were always the minority party in Parliment. In 1978, a number of high ranking DC officials, Moro included, had made an agreement with the Socialist party (milder than the PCI) to set up a new government in which certain cabinet positions would be set aside for the Socialists. Moro was to be the Prime Minister. This was a big deal as, for 30 years, the DC had a complete majority (no coalitions) in Parliment.
A couple of days before an announcement, Moro was on his way to work (in Rome) when members of the Red Brigades killed his bodyguards, took him and held him hostage. Obviously, this caused quite a sensation in Italy and the police began extensive searches of Rome and anywhere they believed the Red Brigades might be hiding Moro. He was held for a number of weeks and, during this time, the Italian government refused to negotiate or open up any talks which might save his life. While the government stone-walled them, the kidnappers released a number of documents to the public. Some of them were letters from Moro, pleading for his life (and starting to express some sympathy for his kidnappers). Others were transcripts of a "trial" that the Red Brigades were conducting. Moro was the defendant and he was found guilty of his crimes against the "people" of Italy. Upon his conviction by the kidnappers, he was killed and his body was dumped in the streets of Rome.
An interesing side note. The kidnappers kept Moro in a hidden closet in Rome the entire time. While the entire country was searching for this man, he was being held in an apartment in Rome, not far from where he lived.
Among the speculation surrounding his death is the complete lack of compassion the Italian Parliment showed towards saving this man's life. One idea I've heard is that many of his collegues were afraid of what Moro might have said to these people. I've heard theories that the head of the DC, Andreotti, who had clear ties to the Mafia (and was convicted for his Mafia links later on) actually wanted him dead to keep him quiet.
This event was the height of what is called the Anni di Piombo (Years of Lead). During this time, there were numerous acts of violence coming from groups on the far Left and Right including bombings of trains, train stations, banks, courthouses and a number of assassinations. The death of Aldo Moro precipitated the final crack down of this violence and Italy (except for the occasional tragedy at a G-8 summit) has been relatively quiet.