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Former Italy PM Alleges France Downed Passenger Jet in Bid to Kill Gaddafi

An explosive and unsubstantiated allegation that Paris gave the order to shoot down an Italian passenger jet in a bid to kill Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 1980 risks sparking a diplomatic row between Italy and France.

In an interview with Rome daily la Repubblica published on Saturday, former Italian Prime Minister Giuliano Amato claimed that the French air force inadvertently fired a missile that downed Itavia Flight 870 en route from Bologna to Palermo. The crash over the Mediterranean killed all 81 people on board and led to rampant speculation in Italy about the cause.

“A plan had been launched to hit the plane on which Gaddafi was flying,” Amato claimed in the interview, suggesting the strongman ruler was tipped off by Amato’s own former rival, ex-Prime Minister Bettino Craxi. Amato called on French President Emmanuel Macron to respond to the claim, saying “it would be an opportunity for the Élysée to wash away the shame that weighs on Paris.”

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni responded to Amato’s comments, saying her predecessor’s claims “deserve attention” but that he should make available any hard evidence that he has in addition to “personal deductions.” Amato acknowledged he has no solid proof to support the assertions.

However, the claims could put pressure on Franco-Italian relations, just as the two countries work to mend their diplomatic relations after a spat this summer when Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani pulled out of an official visit to Paris in response to French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin’s criticism on Rome’s migration policy.

On Saturday, Libya publicly rejected the candidate the EU had proposed to lead its diplomatic mission, with expectations growing they would instead choose an envoy from France. The decision comes amid Meloni’s efforts to build bridges with North African nations, particularly former Italian colony of Libya.




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