Gelli said “I will die a fascist” and expressed his admiration for Berlusconi.
P2 has been at the centre of a number of investigations into allegations that it conspired with right-wing extremists and the Mafia to destabilise governments through bombings and violence, often blamed on extreme leftists.
Italian ex-freemason boss to appear on TV show
To the outrage of democratic politicians and much of the general public, Licio Gelli, infamous former chief of the Propaganda Due (P2), is set to give his version of events on an Italian TV show tracing Italy’s history from fascism to the 1980’s.
The former head of an outlawed masonic lodge linked to some of Italy’s biggest scandals has sparked an outcry by announcing that he will take part in a television talk show to give his version of events.
Licio Gelli, the 89-year old former grandmaster of the shadowy Propaganda 2 (P2) group, will be the main guest in “Venerabile Italia” (Venerable Italy), a programme on Italy’s history from fascism to the 1980s.
The P2 was founded in 1969 and used to be the country’s most powerful secret organisation with prominent politicians, business leaders and military officers as members.
It has been at the centre of a number of investigations into allegations that it conspired with right-wing extremists and the Mafia to destabilise governments through bombings and violence, often blamed on extreme leftists.
“I find it disconcerting that a character like Licio Gelli could become some sort of TV star,” said Anna Finocchiaro, the head of the opposition Partito Democratico in the Senate.
Conservative Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s allies also balked at the prospect.
Gelli was sentenced to 12 years in jail for fraud in connection with the 1982 collapse of Banco Ambrosiano, whose boss Roberto Calvi — known as “God’s banker” for his ties to the Vatican — was found hanged under Blackfriars Bridge in London.
Gelli was also found guilty of obstructing justice during investigations into one of the darkest episodes in Italy’s recent past, the 1980 explosion of a bomb at the Bologna train station which killed 85 people.
He was extradited back to Italy from France in 1998 after escaping from prison in Switzerland and spending some time on the run in South America.
At a news conference in Florence on Friday, Gelli said “I will die a fascist” and expressed his admiration for Berlusconi.
Osvaldo Napoli, a member of Berlusconi’s People of Freedom party said “Gelli’s backing of the government was unsolicited”, calling his return to the scene “alarming”.
Lucia Leonessi, a journalist who has written a biography of Gelli and will host the TV programme, defended her work, saying Gelli had played a significant role in the country’s history.
“He is a prominent figure,” she told Reuters.
The first of the TV show’s nine episodes will air on Monday on Odeon TV, a privately owned network of regional TV stations broadcast across Italy. The network said the series would give historians “food for thought”.
Arms caches were hidden, escape routes prepared, and loyal members recruited: i.e. mainly hardline anticommunists, including many ex-Nazis or former fascists, whether in Italy or in other European countries. In Germany, for example, Gladio had as a central focus the Gehlen Org — also involved in ODESSA “ratlines” — named after Reinhard Gehlen who would become West Germany’s first head of intelligence, while the predominantly Italian P2 masonic lodge was composed of many members of the neofascist Italian Social Movement (MSI), including Licio Gelli. Its clandestine “cells” were to stay behind (hence the name) in enemy controlled territory and to act as resistance movements, conducting sabotage, guerrilla warfare and assassinations.
P2 was outlawed and disbanded in 1981, in the wake of the Banco Ambrosiano scandal, which was linked to the Mafia and to the Vatican Bank. Its Grand Master, Licio Gelli, was involved in most of Italy’s scandals in the last three decades of the 20th century: Banco Ambrosiano’s crash; Tangentopoli, which gave rise to the Mani pulite (“Clean hands”) anticorruption operation in the 1990s; the kidnapping and the murder of Prime Minister Aldo Moro in 1978 – the head of the secret services at the time, accused of negligence, was a piduista (P2 member). Licio Gelli has often said he was a friend of Argentine President Juan Perón. In any case, some members of Jorge Videla’s junta were discovered to be piduista, such as José López Rega, founder of the infamous anticommunist organization Triple A, Raúl Alberto Lastiri or Emilio Massera. The Vatican Bank was also accused of funneling covert US funds for the Solidarnosc trade union movement in Poland and the Contras in Nicaragua.
Propaganda Due or P2 was a Masonic lodge operating under the jurisdiction of the Grand Orient of Italy from 1877 to 1976 (when its charter was withdrawn), and a pseudo-Masonic or “black” or “covert” lodge operating illegally from 1976 to 1981. During the 1980s, when the lodge was headed by Licio Gelli, P2 was implicated in numerous Italian crimes and mysteries, including the nationwide bribe scandal Tangentopoli, the collapse of the Vatican-affiliated Banco Ambrosiano, and the murders of journalist Mino Pecorelli and banker Roberto Calvi. P2 came to light through the investigations into the collapse of Michele Sindona’s financial empire.
P2 was sometimes referred to as a “state within a state” or a “shadow government“. The lodge had among its members prominent journalists, parliamentarians, industrialists, and military leaders — including the then-future Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi; the Savoy pretender to the Italian throne Victor Emmanuel; and the heads of all three Italian intelligence services.
When searching Licio Gelli’s villa, the police found a document called the “Plan for Democratic Rebirth“, which called for a consolidation of the media, suppression of trade unions, and the rewriting of the Italian Constitution.
Licio Gelli (born in Pistoia, Tuscany, April 21, 1919) is an Italian financier, chiefly known for his role in the Banco Ambrosiano scandal. He was revealed in 1981 as being the Worshipful Master of the clandestine Masonic lodge Propaganda Due (P2).
During the 1930s, Licio Gelli volunteered for the “Black Shirt” expeditionary forces sent by Mussolini to Spain in support to Francisco Franco, and subsequently became a liaison officer between the Italian blackshirt government and the Third Reich, with contacts including Hermann Göring. He participated in the Italian Social Republic with Giorgio Almirante, founder of the neofascist Italian Social Movement (MSI)..
As headmaster of Propaganda Due, Gelli allegedly assumed a major role in Gladio’s “strategy of tension” in Italy, starting with the 1969 Piazza Fontana bombing. Gladio was a clandestine “stay-behind” operation sponsored by the CIA and NATO to counter communist influence in Western European countries, which has been involved in terrorist false flags operations in Italy.
The Grande Oriente d’Italia or Grand Orient of Italy (GOI) is a masonic organization based at Palazzo Giustiniani, Rome. It was founded in 1805.
Past grand masters included Giuseppe Garibaldi, the sculptor Ettore Ferrari, the mayor of Rome Ernesto Nathan and Giuseppe Mazzini.
In 1894 there were moves from some of the lodges in the Grande Oriente to expel former Prime Minister Francesco Crispi for being too friendly towards the Catholic Church.
Freemasonry was suppressed by Mussolini in 1925, being restarted after the Second World War.
In 1972 it was recognized as regular by the United Grand Lodge of England.
Propaganda Due, a pseudo-masonic lodge that was implicated in the murder of Roberto Calvi, was originally chartered by the Grand Orient.