‘Red Rose,’ Most-Wanted Italian Terrorist, Arrested
Police said they arrested Italy’s most-wanted terrorist Wednesday--Barbara Balzerani, the last member of the Red Brigades executive council still at large.
Balzerani, 36, has been sought since late 1978 for terrorist acts including the 1978 kidnap-murder of former Prime Minister Aldo Moro and the abduction in 1981 of U.S. Brig. Gen. James L. Dozier, who was freed in a police raid. She has been tried in absentia for those crimes, convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment.
Police said she was picked up in Ostia, west of Rome, outside the apartment of a man with whom she has been living. The apartment was being watched on a tip from Gianluigi Cristiani, a member of the leftist urban guerrilla gang who turned informer, authorities said.
They said the man who lived in the apartment also was arrested. Police did not identify him, but the Italian news agency ANSA quoted quoted police officials it did not identify as saying he is Gianni Pelosi, a 28-year-old suspected Red Brigades terrorist.
Balzerani--widely known as Red Rose--had a loaded pistol in her handbag but was overpowered before she could use it, and another pistol and a submachine gun were found in the apartment, police reported.
Prime Minister Bettino Craxi called it a “brilliant operation.” Interior Minister Oscar Luigi Scalfaro said in a statement that the arrest “confirms our most devoted commitment to fighting organized terrorist groups.”
Balzerani was tried in absentia and sentenced to life in prison for the abduction and murder of Moro, a former president of the Christian Democrat Party who was prime minister five times. The sentence was upheld by an appeals court earlier this year.
A Milan court also gave her a life sentence Dec. 7 for the assassination of three policemen.
She is divorced from Antonio Marini, another Red Brigades leader, and was described until last year as a girlfriend of Mario Moretti, a founder of the Red Brigades who is serving a life sentence for the Moro assassination. Until she vanished in 1978, she had been directing the Red Brigades operation in the Milan area, police said.
Prosecutors have said she continued to play a leading role while in hiding, hatching terrorist plots including the kidnapping of Dozier on Dec. 17. 1981, from his apartment in Verona. He was rescued by police commandos on Jan. 28, 1982, in the northern city of Padua.
Although Balzerani got a life sentence for Dozier’s kidnaping, an appeals court later ordered that she and three others be retried.
With the help of terrorists who have turned state’s evidence, police have rounded up hundreds of terrorists from both the left and right in the past two years.