Former Italian Prime Minister Claims Accidental French Missile Strike Took Down Airliner in 1980 Aimed at Eliminating Gadhafi

by Lucas Garcia
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Missile Strike

In a recently published interview, an ex-Prime Minister of Italy, Giuliano Amato, asserted that a failed attempt by France to eliminate Moammar Gadhafi, the then leader of Libya, led to the accidental downing of an Italian passenger plane over the Mediterranean Sea in 1980. Amato is urging the current French President, Emmanuel Macron, to either confirm or refute his claims regarding the incident that occurred on June 27, 1980, resulting in the loss of 81 lives aboard the Italian domestic flight.

During his conversation with Rome’s La Repubblica newspaper, Amato claimed that the French air force unintentionally struck the Italian airliner while attempting to target a Libyan military aircraft. Despite lacking definitive evidence, Amato suggested that Italy had prior information and warned Gadhafi, who subsequently did not board the intended Libyan aircraft.

The cause of the tragic crash remains one of Italy’s most perplexing unsolved mysteries. Some theories posit that the aircraft, an Itavia jetliner traveling from Bologna to Sicily, was destroyed by an onboard bomb. Others believe that subsequent examinations of the salvaged wreckage strongly suggest a missile strike.

Radar data from the time show an unusual level of aerial activity in that particular region of the sky when the aircraft went missing. Amato indicated that the most plausible explanation places the French air force at fault, implicating them in a larger aerial conflict on that fateful evening, possibly in collaboration with American forces. According to Amato, NATO had planned an operation, simulating a large-scale aerial exercise, during which a missile was to be fired with Gadhafi as the target.

In the wake of the crash, officials from France, the United States, and NATO categorically denied having any military involvement in the air space that evening. Amato asserted that the missile was likely launched from a French fighter jet that had taken off from an aircraft carrier, possibly located off the southern coast of Corsica.

Despite being only a toddler at the time of the tragedy near the small Italian island of Ustica, President Macron has been specifically called upon by Amato to alleviate the burden of guilt that France may carry. He suggests that Macron can achieve this either by disproving these allegations or by issuing a formal apology to Italy and the victim’s families, should these claims be substantiated.

During his tenure as Prime Minister in the year 2000, Amato had written to the then Presidents of the United States and France, Bill Clinton and Jacques Chirac respectively, in a futile attempt to clarify the circumstances surrounding the incident, only to be met with complete silence.

Responding to the interview, the current Italian Premier, Giorgia Meloni, has urged Amato to provide any tangible evidence to support his claims so that further investigations may be pursued. Although Amato admitted that his claims are based on personal deductions, Meloni acknowledged that they warrant further scrutiny.

These allegations are not entirely new. In a 2008 television interview, former Italian President Francesco Cossiga, who was the sitting premier at the time of the crash, also blamed a French missile intended for a Libyan military aircraft. Cossiga revealed that Italy’s secret military services had informed Gadhafi about the impending strike.

Moammar Gadhafi was ultimately killed in the 2011 Libyan civil war. Weeks after the 1980 crash, the remnants of a Libyan MiG fighter, along with the decomposed body of its pilot, were found in the isolated mountains of southern Calabria.

Report from Paris contributed by Sylvie Corbet.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Missile Strike

What is the basis of Giuliano Amato’s claim regarding the 1980 airliner crash?

Giuliano Amato, a former Italian Prime Minister, asserts that a French missile, aimed at killing Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, accidentally downed an Italian airliner in 1980 over the Mediterranean Sea.

Did Amato provide concrete evidence for his claims?

Amato’s claims are based on personal deductions, and he acknowledges lacking hard proof. However, he believes that Italy had tipped off Gadhafi, who avoided boarding the targeted Libyan military jet.

How did Amato suggest the accidental missile strike occurred?

According to Amato, a French fighter jet, possibly launched from an aircraft carrier near Corsica, fired the missile during an aerial exercise, intending to hit Gadhafi’s aircraft.

What response did the French government provide to Amato’s claims?

As of now, the French President’s office hasn’t issued a direct comment regarding Amato’s statements.

What are the implications of Amato’s assertions?

If proven true, Amato’s claims could implicate the French air force, possibly in conjunction with American forces, in an international incident involving the accidental downing of a civilian airliner.

Were there previous suspicions of French involvement in the incident?

Yes, former Italian President Francesco Cossiga also mentioned French involvement in a 2008 interview, indicating that Italy’s secret services had informed Gadhafi about the impending missile strike.

What was the aftermath of the 1980 airliner crash?

The crash remains an unsolved mystery, with different theories suggesting a bomb explosion or missile strike as the cause. The wreckage was recovered from the seafloor years later.

How did Giuliano Amato request action from President Macron?

Amato urged French President Emmanuel Macron to either confirm or refute his claims, asking for clarification on the incident that occurred when Macron was just a toddler.

What is the significance of this incident in modern Italy’s history?

The 1980 airliner crash is a significant event in Italian history, marked by controversy and mystery surrounding the cause. It remains a topic of interest and intrigue due to the various theories and claims associated with it.

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