The friendship between Berlusconi and the Libyan President was confirmed in June, when Berlusconi visited Libya and managed to get back three fishing boats confiscated by the Libyan government in international waters. Nothing was said, though, about the fate of the hundreds of migrants locked up in Libyan detention centres, or about the sudden shutdown of the UNHCR office in Tripoli in June, accused of “illegal activities”.
Italy’s economic dependency on Libya is such that even the smallest remark on the human rights violations constantly perpetuated in that country would mean the immediate block of gas and oil supplies to Italy. “Italy will have the priority over gas and oil, because they’re friends” has recently stated Gaddafi, after the Italian government offered reparation payments for the damages caused during the Fascist regime, when Libya was a colony. Nowadays, if Libya wanted they could leave Italy on their knees and cause the collapse of several financial groups. This is the brilliant result of the hypocritical path opened up by the Left-wing government in 2000.
Just to give you a taste of the dodgyness of relationships between Italy and Libya I will briefly mention what is known in Italy as the “Ustica Massacre”:
On 27 June 1980 an Italian plane exploded while in route from Bologna to Palermo. All 81 passengers died. The most accepted theory, which will probably stay a theory forever, is that the aircraft was shot down during a dog fight involving Libyan, U.S., French and Italian Air Force fighters in an attempted assassination by NATO members on an important Libyan politician, maybe even the leader Muammar al-Gaddafi, who was flying in the same airspace that evening. Gaddafi has denied being in the area of the accident that evening. This version was supported in particular by investigative magistrate Rosario Priore in 1999. The judge Priore said in his concluding report that his investigation had been deliberately obstructed by the Italian military and members of the secret service, in compliance with NATO requests.
The media also reported that radar monitoring released in 1997 by NATO showed that at least seven fighter aircraft were in the vicinity when the jet plunged into the sea off the island of Ustica. According to these sources, the radar shows one or two Libyan MiG-23 had tried to evade detection by flying close to the airliner. Three Italian Air Force F-104S, one U.S. Navy A-7 Corsair II and a French fighter pursued the Libyan MiG-23 and a battle ensued.
21 days after the crash, a Libyan MiG-23 crashed on the Sila Mountains in Castelsilano, Calabria, southern Italy, according to eye witnesses and official reports. Media rumors reported that the plane may actually only have been discovered at that time, and that the pilot’s body was decomposed, originated allegations that the MiG-23 may have been shot down at the time of the Flight 870 incident.
After years of farse investigations, no official explanation or final report has been provided by the Italian government who is now best friends with Gaddafi.