Pasolini 40 years ago, like a “bag of trash”

-by Riccardo Lestini-

THE PASOLINI  CRIME: THE CASE IS STILL OPEN Exactly 40 years after the savage crime that shut the mouth of the great intellectual, it is still not clear how it happened

Hydroplane base Lido di Roma, dawn of 2 November 1975.
A woman living in a shack nearby is getting herself ready just like any other morning to clean the area in front of her home from the rubble and the filth. But just a few meters away from
what she initially thought was just another bag of trash she realizes it is not an usual bag of trash, but the corpse of a mangled man.
A man by the name of Pier Paolo Pasolini.


Ostia 2 novembre 1975. foto Ansa

Ostia, 2 November 1975. Photo Ansa


Today, 2 November 2015, exactly 40 years after, the investigation on that savage murder have not yet shed total light on it. Not even an acceptable truth, let alone one that could be shared by everyone. To this day there are still too many omissions, suspicions of cover-up, mysteries and unclear parts.
Looking at how the investigations are regularly opened and closed without substantial results after years, the impression is that the Pasolini
murder will remain one of the unresolved crimes of recent history in Italy, just like many others. And, most of all, that there is no real intention to shed light on that shameful and disturbing story.
Even though we are out of time for what justice is concerned, our duty is to not give up, not keep quiet, tell of that murder again and again, telling the (few) certainties and the (many) doubts. And still demand at least the truth, a truth that must be – minus the conspiracy theories – somewhere out there. As to finally make peace with the boundless work of one of the greatest Italian intellectuals of the 20th century.

The facts

On the night of 1 November Pasolini dined with Ninetto Davoli and his family at the restaurant Pommidoro, in the San Lorenzo neighbourhood. Later, around 11 pm, after saying goodnight to his long time friend, he reached, on board of his grey Alfa GT, the Termini area, piazza dei Cinquecento, destination of many of the writer’s solitary nights, a crossroads of miseries where uncountable “ragazzi di vita” (hustlers) used to sell their bodies for a few liras.

A set photo of Ninetto Davoli, Sergio Citti and Pier Paolo Pasolini from Gianni Amelio's documentary

A set photo of Ninetto Davoli, Sergio Citti and Pier Paolo Pasolini from Gianni Amelio’s documentary “Felice chi è diverso” – Ansa photo.

On the car that night with Pasolini was the seventeen-year-old Giuseppe Pelosi, known as “Pino la rana” (Pino “the frog“), already known to the police for insignificant acts of crime.
Already at this point there are some contradictions.
Both during the preliminary questioning and during the trial, Pelosi  claimed he didn’t recognize the writer nor that he knew who he was, even though he was on the most famous people of that time. However, according to the his cell mate’s testimony ,
Pelosi had said at dawn on November 2nd – before the body had been found: «I killed Pasolini». Not only: Pelosi’s two friends, who had arrived in Termini together with him, declared during the first investigation that they had been talking a while with Pasolini and asked him for a part in his next film.

Anyway, after leaving piazza dei Cinquecento, since the young boy hadn’t eaten yet, Pasolini paid him a quick dinner in a small restaurant near San Paolo. From this moment on, we’re in the dark. Once they left the restaurant, Pelosi is the only witness to what happened later. But, as we’ll see, Pelosi‘s accounts are full of contradictions, discrepancies and, often, not very plausible.
We know for sure only that from San Paolo the two of them went to Ostia, to the hydroplane base. Why would they need to go all the way to Ostia to get some privacy? A question neither Pelosi nor others were ever able to answer.

Hour later, around 1.30 a.m., a Carabinieri patrol car saw Pasolini‘s Alfa running at high speed and the wrong way. Behind the wheel was the seventeen-year-old Pino Pelosi.
Brought to the central police station for dangerous driving and car theft, the boy just asked the agents if they had found a ring “with an American writing on it” in the car.
The Carabinieri went to Pasolini
‘s house (in the EUR neighbourhood) to tell him they found the car at about 4 a.m.; the poet, however, had not got back. Then, at dawn, the horrible discovery of the corpse in Ostia. Pelosi’s ring was found beside the writer’s body .
The boy immediately declared of having acted alone. Deemed believable by the investigators, he was processed by the Juvenile Court as the sole responsible for the murder of
Pier Paolo Pasolini.

The counter-investigation

However, Pelosi as the only person present on the scene of the crime is actually the least plausible part of the so-called “official truth”.

Pier Paolo Pasolini interviewing Oriana Fallaci in a scene of the film 'Comizi d'amore'(Love meetings)

Pier Paolo Pasolini interviewing Oriana Fallaci in a scene of the film ‘Comizi d’amore’ (Love meetings)

Why couldn’t Pelosi be alone? First of all, the destination: Why going all the way to Ostia if not for a meeting, a meeting turned into an ambush? Regarding that, the testimony of Oriana Fallaci collected at that time speaks of two bikers who followed Pasolini‘s car from the restaurant in san paolo to Ostia.

Apart from the hypothesis of the two mysterious attackers on bikes, never taken seriously during the investigations, it is the dynamic of the murder itself that discredits Pelosi‘s version and gives great credit to the “multiple attackers” idea.

Pelosi mentioned an incomplete act of oral sex  and a subsequent tiff with the writer, due to the fact that Pasolini, according to the boy, refused to honour what had been agreed upon earlier.
“The frog” would have left the car at that point followed by the writer and there, by the goalposts of a small football field, the row would have escalated into violent hand to hand combat.  To defend himself from Pasolini who, according to Pelosi, «had crazy eyes», the young boy kicked him hard in the testicles. During the fight, after the poet had taken off his shirt to stop the bleeding, the two allegedly crawled for about seventy meters and in the end Pelosi would have hit Pasolini on the head with a wooden board until he lost his senses. Then he got back into the car and left at great speed, without even realizing he had trampled upon the writer’s body. In the end, Pelosi, before being stopped by carabinieri on the seafront, would have allegedly made a stop to get clean, as he was covered in blood.

Pino Pelosi in a police car during the inspection of the crime scene of the Pasolini murder, La Stampa archive.

Pino Pelosi in a police car during the inspection of the crime scene of the Pasolini murder, La Stampa archive.

Why did Pelosi get out of the car? And, most importantly, why would Pasolini get out without his glasses, since he never left them (as his family and friends have recalled many times)? It is more logical to assume that the poet was violently dragged out of the Alfa.
An assumption confirmed by how the events subsequently unfolded The autopsy ascertained without a doubt that Pasolini lost consciouness not due to the blows on the head, as claimed by Pelosi, but for the violent kick to the testicles. Therefore, the kick occurred in the second phase of the aggression and not in the first as claimed by the boy. It seems quite impossible that Pasolini, passed out, would take off his shirt, stop the bleeding and go seventy meters.
So, Pasolini was savagely and repeatedly hit first. Surely not with the wooden board Pelosi spoke about, since it was full of water and therefore bound to break after a few blows, but rather with other blunt objects that were never recovered. The aggression could have ended then.
But clearly the intention was from the start to eliminate the writer, as made clear by the fact that Pasolini is dragged by more than one person for seventy meters and repeatedly hit again until he lost consciousness.
The trails left by the wheels of the Alfa show how the trampling of Pasolini‘s body was no accident, so-claimed by Pelosi, as the trails are so erratic that the trajectory could only be intentional.

Pelosi during the police inspection on the scene of the crime.As for the blood stains in the car, Pelosi claimed they were due to his hands, covered in the poet’s blood. However, the stains were found on the passenger’s seat; therefore, either Pelosi got on while another person was driving or Pelosi was driving with another person beside him.

Pino Pelosi during the inspection of the police on the crime scene of the Pasolini murder, Ansa photo.

Pino Pelosi during the inspection of the police on the crime scene of the Pasolini murder, Ansa photo.

Also: if it came to a violent hand to hand combat between the two, why was Pelosi not covered in blood when the Carabinieri stopped him? Why were there no blood stains on the driving wheel? Why was he not wet at all if he had stopped washing at a fountain?
This doesn’t explain, then, the testimonies of many people living in the shacks nearby (for example the one given by Ennio Salvetti called “er(il?) pescatore” [“the fisherman“], regarding which he was famously interviewed by Furio Colombo for “La Stampa”) who declared to have heard many voices that night?
The autopsy on Pasolini’s body stated that he had a fractured jaw, a ripped ear, ten broken ribs, and liver lacerations. How could a seventeen-year-old boy who weighed less than 60kg be able to do all that damage alone?

Shadows of conspiracy and Pelosi’s withdrawal

The Juvenile Court sentenced Pino Pelosi for murder “with the participation of persons unknown” on 26 April 1976 in the first degree. But both in the appeal (4 December 1976) and Cassazione (26 April 1979) sentences, while confirming Pelosi‘s responsibility, any reference to other attackers disappears.
An incomprehensible decision that can’t be explained if not by assuming that the investigators preferred to believe the implausible confessed murderer in order to close the uncomfortable and dangerous investigations as soon as possible.

If Pasolini‘s death looks more and more like the result of a premeditate ambush, new and disquieting questions come to mind: who wanted Pasolini dead and why?

Oriana Fallaci al processo contro Pelosi per l'omicidio di Pier Paolo Pasolini in una foto del 18 luglio 1977 (immagine di archivio Ansa da

Oriana Fallaci at the process against Pelosi on 18 July 1977

(Archive image Rainews)

Questions that gave life to a number of disparate theses, suggest various investigative paths that nevertheless never lead to a reopening of the case.
Leaving out the most far-fetched theories, often without any confirmation and exclusively due to a morbid taste for conspiracy theories, there are still elements that open the way to some disturbing scenaries.

It all starts with Pino Pelosi fully withdrawing his version in 2005 during Ombre sul Giallo, a Rai crime programme. The former hustler declared that he was not the actual murderer but rather just an impotent observer, thus overturning anything he declared thirty years before. The men who killed Pasolini were, according to Pelosi, three men unknown to him, who spoke with a strong Sicilian accent and that reached the Hydroplane base on board of a Fiat with a Catania plate.
The most peculiar thing is that what Pelosi declared finds some confirmation in what emerged during the first phase of the investigation.
First of all, an anonymous letter sent to the authorities just twenty days after the murder, which stated that, on the night of the crime, Pasolini‘s car had been followed by a fiat with a Catania plate of which only the first four plate numbers were reported.  The letter was ignored and no control was carried out about it.
But, mostly, two Sicilian brothers, nicknamed “Braciola” and “Bracioletta”, had been included in the investigation in 1976, while the process against Pelosi was still on. A police officer or to be more precise a ‘Carabiniere‘, at that time undercover in the Roman criminal world, collected the confidence of the two young criminals, who declared they had been part of the massacre with other people. Arrested, they withdrew everything and declared they laid claim to the crime out of vanity.
The two brothers (both deceased in the 80s) were then released, while the Carabiniere was transferred. However, whether the Sicilians had been involved or not, what the agent indicated was a trail that would have deserved more attention. Braciola and Bracioletta, together with Pelosi used to frequent a recreation centre that was used as a cover for the terrorist activities of the far right groups that operated in Rome during that time. Those same groups that had threatened Pasolini more than once and that distributed a few days after the murder some flyers with the photo of Pasolini and this disgusting caption: «one less». Those same groups that more often than not used the hustlers for their shadier low-profile operations.

But the most disturbing hypothesis is the one that binds the Pasolini murder to the fight for power between ENI and Montedison, to the petrol scandals of that time, to the death of Enrico Mattei, and to the figure of Eugenio Cefis. The writer was in fact busy with the first draft of Petrolio (“Oil”), a novel published  posthumously in 1992 that according to Pasolini himself would have kept him busy for the rest of his life and about which he refused to give any anticipation, contrary to what he did with his previous novels.

Pasolini had spent much time investigating the role took by Cefis in Italian politics, Ending up making him one of the key characters in Petrolio with the pseudonym of Troya and stating that he had an active and central role in the Italian campaign of violence connected to oil and international conspiracies. The real reasons for the poet’s death would then be hidden in this unfinished masterpiece.

Where are we now?There have been many attempts to reopen the case. Even though people close to Pasolini (as for example the cousins Graziella Chiarcossi e Nico Naldini) still vehemently deny any conspiracy and simply associate the murder with a wild night ended in tragedy, the directors Franco and Sergio Citti are still convinced of the political nature of the writer’s demise.Walter Veltroni (former mayor of Rome) has been particularly active, writing an open letter in 2009 to the then Minister of the Interior Angelino Alfano asking for the reopening of the case and underlying that Pasolini died in the years when «massacres were carried out and plots were hatched».

Pier Paolo Pasolini with Ferdinando Adornato and Walter Veltroni 1974 Photo Olycom

Pier Paolo Pasolini with Ferdinando Adornato and Walter Veltroni 1974 Photo Olycom

The same Veltroni, one year later, asked a parliamentary question to Minister of Culture Sandro Bondi after the claims of Marcello Dell’Utri, who stated he had had an unpublished chapter of Petrolio named “Lampi su ENI” (“Lightnings on Eni”).
Although it was never discovered who gave Dell’Utri the supposedly ghost chapter, thanks to these new claims lawyer Stefano Maccioni and cirminologist Simona Ruffini were able to open new investigations in April 2010.
But even this time, despite the enormous work done and the emergence of new and decisive elements (according to the lawyer) previously unknown, the investigators have not found any substantial turning point and therefore closed the case last May.

It doesn’t stop here, though. Some weeks ago, Maccioni himself started promoting a petition asking for the creation of a parliamentary commission to investigate the crime. A request welcomed by member of Parliament Serena Pellegrini and subscribed by seventy other members of Parliament.
If the request is accepted, investigations will start again and maybe it won’t turn into another lost opportunity.
We wait, because we believe in what a poster declared on the day of Pasolini’s funeral: «don’t let poets be killed». Searching for truth is the purest, most sincere and most noble way to keep poetry alive.

Cover photo from an interview made to Pasolini by Emilio Fede

Translation by Leonardo Professione
Proofreading by Antoinette d’Arbela