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Urbano Lazzaro, 81; Resistance Fighter Captured Mussolini

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Urbano Lazzaro, 81, the World War II Italian resistance fighter credited with capturing Italy’s fascist dictator Benito Mussolini near the end of the war in Europe, died Tuesday at a hospital in Vercelli, Italy.

Lazzaro, who fought with a Communist resistance group in northern Italy, was among those who stopped a retreating column of German troops near Dongo, on Lake Como, on April 27, 1945. As the resistance fighters searched the trucks, Lazzaro recognized “Il Duce” disguised as a German soldier.

Lazzaro later challenged the official story that Mussolini was tried in a summary court-martial and shot with his mistress, Claretta Petacci.

In a 50th anniversary article in the news magazine Panorama in 1995, Lazzaro said Mussolini and Petacci had been dead for four hours when their “execution” took place. They had, he said, died a distance from the execution locale after Petacci tried to grab a gun from one of their guards.

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“Two or three shots went off in the struggle and hit Mussolini, who dropped in agony,” Lazzaro said. “They finished him off on the spot and then shot Petacci for causing the accident.”

The rest, Lazzaro told Reuters in 1995, was staged: “The times demanded an execution.”


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