May 15, 2005


UPDATE AUGUST 10: The post below has been superceded by later developments. For the latest on the reopening of the Pasolini murder case, go to my article, "Restoring Pasolini, by clicking here......

There have been some new developments since DIRELAND first reported on the explosive events in Rome around the murder, 30 years ago, of the great Italian writer, poet, and film director Pier Paolo Pasolini (see photo), who celebrated homosexuality in his work. Pasolini_ii In the wake of the supposed murderer -- the hustler Pino "the Frog" Pelosi -- having renounced his confession of three decades earlier in an exclusive interview with Rai3 television two weeks ago, the judge who presided over Pelosi's trial and sentenced him to nine years in prison back then has given an interview to the daily La Stampa.

In his recantation, Pelosi --who has been out of prison for 23 years -- said the murder was, in fact, committed by a gang of three other people, men in their 40s who shouted "dirty communist" and fag-baiting Sicilian epithets at Pasolini. Pelosi, in the Rai3 interview, insisted that this gang and their friends kept him silent by intimidation " I was terrorized, they have threatened my father and mother.  But now my mother is dead of cancer, and my father died ten years after her.  And these people are either dead or old, about 80 now. I am no longer afraid," Pelosi told the TV interviewer.

(Pelosi's reference to Sicilian epithets is particularly interesting: shortly before his death, Pasolini had been working on an investigation of the Mafia and prostitution.)

Now, Judge Salme has told La Stampa, "I always thought he was not alone." Furthermore, Judge Salme confirms that what chroniclers of the murder, from Pasolini biographer Enzo Siciliano to the journalist Orianna Falaci, have always reported -- to wit, that the possibility of the crime having been committed for political reasons was never examined by the police at the time -- is true. "The fascist angle?  No one has ever investigated a motive," Judge Salme told La Stampa, adding: "It was not only Pelosi who killed Pasolini, we were always convinced of it, even if the appellate judges felt otherwise."

Judge Salme went on to say, "In our ruling we wrote clearly that we dealt only with an objective reconstruction based on the facts.  We didn't look into the motives.  In reflecting on it, the disturbing aspect of this story, 30 years after, remains that the investigation was done in a hurry."

The political climate in which Pasolini was killed was special, in the Italy of "the years of lead," as they were called. One week before he was murdered, Pasolini suggested that the entire Italian ruling class be put on trial for "unworthiness, contempt for their fellow citizens, misappropriation of public funds, price-fixing for oil companies, industries, banking cartels, collaboration with the CIA, illegal use of intelligence agencies, responsibility for [neofascist] terrorism in Milan, Brescia and Bologna (given a seeming inability to punish the perpetrators), destruction, anthropological degradation, the disgraceful condition of schools, hospitals and every other basic public institution, the neglect of the countryside, the wildcat explosion of popular culture and of mass media, and the criminal stupidity of television." The continual, stinging criticism of those in power from Pasolini in his writings, poems, and films made him a bete noire.

The importance of Judge Salme's declarations is that, added to Pelosi's recantation, they further refute the thesis of Pelosi's original (now known to be fake) confession. That thesis -- that the hustler killed Pasolini in an S&M adventure gone bad, in anger after Pasolini supposedly tried to sodomize him with a large piece of wood -- has been used for three decades to discredit Pasolini and trivialize and dismiss his enormous body of written and cinematic work (as we noted in our second post on the Pasolini murder case). With even the supposed murderer's judge now saying that the crime was committed by multiple persons, and that possible political motives for the killing were never explored, it is really becoming irrefutable that the version of PPP's death that has reigned in the cultural and literary world for three decades is completely fabrication.

In a May 9 interview with Corriere della Serra, Guido Calvi, a lawyer for the Pasolini family called attention to the virulent homophobia that has characterized the Italian right and neo-fascist circles, particularly in the '70s, as homosexuality was more and more openly portrayed in cultural forms (with Paolini and his films, like Teorama, in the avant-garde of this sympathetic portrayal) and the first Italian gay liberation movement, Fuori! (inspired by the young writer Mario Mieli) made its appearance. (An aside: Mieli's important early book, Homosexuality and Liberation: Elements of a Critique, which was published in Italy the year after Pasolini's murder, was issued in an English translation by GayMen's Press in 1980, and provides much important contextual information on the homophobic climate during the Pasolini years).

Here are extracts from the Corriere della Serra interview with lawyer Calvi:
Calvi: Reopening the investigation means, above all, viewing the incident in a cultural context.

Q: What are you referring to?

Calvi: To the typical intolerance of certain parts of the right against homosexuals.  One must not forget those were also the years of the rape of Franca Rame [wife of playwright Dario Fo; she was involved in leftwing politics] by rightwing extremists.  [She was dragged into a car in 1973-ish and gang-raped by 5 Mafia rightists.  She didn't tell her husband until much later.  He then wrote a play about it.]

Q: What do the murders carried out by Angelo Izzo [neoFascist thug] have to do with the Pasolini killing?

Calvi:  There is no direct connection but one of context.  Basically, what was the Circeo?  A slaying of two innocent people carried out by two psychopaths who were hiding their homosexuality, so the two girls weren't raped.  That was the climate at the time: total opposition to diversity.

Q: So for you, Pasolini was the victim of an ambush with political implications?

Calvi:  You need to define what constitutes a political crime.  Even a poet like Garcia Lorca was killed for political reasons.  It was the same for Pasolini.  They wanted to hit an "inconvenient" man.  One of the leading voices of the Italian intellectual scene of the 20th century who wrote of massacres and politics.  By killing him, they silenced a voice.

Q:  You knew Pasolini.  Were he alive today, what would he think about what is happening now?

Calvi: Pier Paolo was a man of infinite vitality.  I am sure that even he would suggest that the responsibility for much that happened, in the wider view, should be seen in a cultural context. 

Q: Are you optimistic that in the end the truth will come out? 

Calvi: There is still a strong resistance, we will see.  Certainly, I will fight because the murder of Pier Paolo is not going to be forgotten again in the darkness of memory.

My thanks to my dear friend John Berendt (author of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil), who -- having just turned the manuscript of his new book, set in Venice, over to his publisher -- has kindly devoted some of his free time and his knowlege of Italian to helping me ferret out and translate the new developments on the Pasolini murder case appearing these days in the Italian press, including the articles cited above.

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Posted by: laptop battery | Oct 12, 2008 10:34:17 PM

Reply to Roger:
I think it rather far-fetched to suggest that the Italian Communists were behind Pasolini's murder. Pier Paolo's corpse lay in state at the headquarters of L'Unita,the Communist daily, where it was viewed by a never-ending line of people, and many Communist leaders were present at Pasolini's funeral, which drew an enormous crowd of 30,000 mourners.

Posted by: Doug Ireland | Nov 30, 2005 5:52:38 AM

Passolini's martyrdom is one of those cases that
make one fervently hope for the existence of God.
We humans don't have a fitting punishment for
such evil deeds.
Each and every member of the italian elites at the
time, including some of so-called Pasolini's
friends who have kept cowardly silent all these
years, should rot in hell for all eternity.
Politics in Italy have consistently increased its
Day after day society becomes dirtier and masses
suffer more and more the effects of the unholy
racket among the priests and the traders.
Even the wealthy are becoming uncapable to bear
the stench spewing off their own putrefaction.
On killing Pasolini they only succeeded on setting
forth their doom.
Cardinal Luciani and Pasolini's tragedies bring
out and in the open everything that is immoral
and repugnant in today's Italy.
The Antichrist must be lurking in the shadows at
the Vatican waiting for its time after the passing
of the Purpled Nazi.
Interesting times are rapidly approaching.
Very soon the seals will be broken, and Rome will
be the first to realize it.

Posted by: JULIOESCOBAR BORNACELLI | Nov 10, 2005 2:34:29 PM

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