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Silence Over Alleged Israeli Plot Could Lead to Trial

August 24, 1986|From Times Wire Services

VENICE, Italy — A former chief of the Italian military counterintelligence service could be tried as early as this week for failing to explain his allegations that Israeli agents blew up an Italian air force plane in 1973, judicial sources said Saturday.

Gen. Ambrogio Viviani, who headed the service from 1970 to 1974, was arrested Friday after he refused to divulge details of the allegations to investigating magistrate Carlo Mastelloni.

Earlier this year, Viviani claimed in a magazine interview that the Italian secret services helped Libyan leader Moammar Kadafi stay in

power in the 1970s in order to protect Italy's oil interests in Libya.

He added in the interview that an explosion on board an Italian plane near Venice in 1973, in which four military personnel were killed, was in his view "a warning from the Israeli secret service that we should leave off Kadafi and Arab-Palestinian terrorism."

The cause of the explosion was never determined but years later it was revealed that three days before the plane was destroyed, it carried to Libya five Arab terrorists arrested in connection with a plot to attack an airliner from El Al Israel Airlines, Israel's national carrier.

After the article was published, Mastelloni, who is heading an inquiry into international links to terrorism in Italy, summoned Viviani for questioning. The general was charged with "reticence" for refusing to divulge details of his remarks to the magazine.

Viviani left the inquiry Friday, escorted by police, saying he could not reply to Mastelloni's questions because the matter was a secret.

Judicial sources told the Italian news agency ANSA that Viviani could be subjected to more questioning or be put on trial as early as this week in connection with the case.

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