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Giuseppe "Pino" Pinelli (21 October 1928 – 15 December 1969) was an Italian railway worker and anarchist activist, who died in the custody of Italian police in 1969 after being arrested. Pinelli was a member of the Milan Circle "Ponte della Ghisolfa". He was also the secretary of the Italian branch of the Anarchist Black Cross. His death, believed by many to be at the hands of the police, is the inspiration for Dario Fo's play Accidental Death of an Anarchist.
Pinelli was born into a working-class family. He worked as an errand boy and then a warehouse worker, but he still found time to read and become active with a Milan-area anarchist group in 1944 and other groups later, including a group which published the weekly paper Il Libertario.
During the 1960s he continued anarchist activism. He organized young anarchists in the Gioventu Libertaria (Libertarian Youth) in 1963. He helped found the Sacco and Vanzetti Circle in 1965. He founded the Ponte della Ghisolfa Circle (named after the nearby bridge) in 1968.
Circumstances of his death
On 12 December 1969 a bomb went off at the Piazza Fontana in Milan that killed 17 people and injured 88. Pinelli was picked up, along with other anarchists, for questioning regarding the attack. He was held and interrogated for three days, longer than Italian law specified that people could be held without seeing a judge. Just before midnight on 15 December 1969 Pinelli was seen to fall to his death from a fourth floor window of the Milan police station. Three police officers interrogating Pinelli, including Commissioner Luigi Calabresi, were put under investigation in 1971 for his death, but legal proceedings concluded it was due to accidental causes.
Pinelli's name has since been cleared, and the far-right Ordine Nuovo was accused of the 1969 Piazza Fontana bombing (in 2001, three neo-fascists were convicted, a sentence overturned in March 2004; a fourth defendant, Carlo Di Giglio, was a suspected CIA informant who became a witness for the state and received immunity from prosecution).
Calabresi was later killed by two shots from a revolver outside his home in 1972. In 1988, former Lotta Continua leader Adriano Sofri was arrested with Ovidio Bompressi and Giorgio Pietrostefani for Calabresi's murder. The charges against them were based on testimony provided, 16 years later, by Leonardo Marino, an ex-militant who confessed to the murder of Calabresi, under order from Adriano Sofri. Claiming his innocence, Sofri was finally convicted after a highly contentious trial, in 2000.
Pinelli's death is the inspiration for:
- Dario Fo's play Accidental Death of an Anarchist, although in the original script his name was not mentioned explicitly.
- The painting "Funeral Of The Anarchist Pinelli" by Italian artist Enrico Baj.
- The political documentary film "12 dicembre" (1972) directed by Giovanni Bonfanti and based on an idea by Pier Paolo Pasolini.
- The song "Ballata per l'Anarchico Pinelli", a lamento composed in February 1970 by Franco Trincale, and later covered by the french band Les Amis D'Ta Femme in the album "Noir... et rouge aussi un peu" in 2003.
- ^ Italian justice has used a system of [state witnesses] "collaboratori di giustizia-collaborators with justice" to fight against terrorism and the mafia.
- "Italy from the 1960s". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 17 July 2011.
- Fleury, Matthew (1985). "Dario Fo". Bomb Magazine, New Art Publications. Retrieved 5 March 2013. "The events upon which the play is based took place in 1969. A bomb exploded in the center of Milan, near the Duomo. Sixteen died. The police blamed the anarchists, one of whom, Giovanni Pinelli, they seized. Later on he was thrown from a window at police headquarters. There is considerable evidence that Pinelli’s death was murder, not an accident as the police claimed, so the title Accidental Death of an Anarchist, is ironic. We are sure it was not an accident . . . . It was murder . . . . But this is the official police characterization of the event. The case was filed as an “accidental death.”"
- Bohlen, Celestine (26 September 1997). "Dispute in Italy Is Conjuring Up Its Terrorist Past". New York Times. p. 2. Retrieved 5 April 2009.
- La ballata del Pinelli (The ballad of Pinelli) – in Italian
- 2001 Conviction of the bombers
- 13 December 2005 ANSA cable (in English)
- A short biography
- Giuseppe Pinelli Page Daily Bleed's Anarchist Encyclopedia