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Silvia Baraldini is a free woman! September 26, 2006

Posted by dorigo in news, politics.

It is with joy that I learned the news tonight. A case of real injustice has been finally mended.

I am fully aware of the fact that some readers might consider my joy stupid, irresponsible, or worse. Indeed, I can almost hears the outcry of the american government, who accepted to transfer Baraldini to an italian prison only after years of repeated injunctions by the italian authorities, also motivated by the cancer Baraldini had developed during her detention, and under full assurance that she would continue to be detained until the end of her sentence. Or the frowning of anti-communists who will start bitching about “one more terrorist set free”.

The fact is, I think the 43 year sentence that the United States decided to administer to Silvia Baraldini back in 1983 was disproportionated given her alleged faults. She was convicted for her participation in the “black panther” party, which fought for the civil rights of american blacks. During her activity in the group, she participated in the 1979 evasion of Joanne Chesimard from the federal penitentiary of Clinton, NJ, according to the sentence.

Silvia Baraldini did participate in the evasion, by driving the car which brought away Joanne. During the evasion there were no injuries nor casualties. For that crime alone Silvia was sentenced to 20 years of imprisonment. Of the other 23, 20 were inflicted for participation in the group, despite no link to actual actions performed by other members of the illegal party. The last three were inflicted for refusing to testify against a revolutionary Puertorican movement.

Baraldini was brough back to an italian prison in 1999. She would have been freed by law in 2008, but by force of the recently voted italian law of pardon – discounting the detention of several inmates – she was freed today.

It aches to write this, but americans -usually in the military- are used to violate foreign laws and then safely fly back home without having to suffer the consequences. Just one example: the Cermis tragedy.

On February 3rd, 1998 a US Marines Prowler left the air base in Aviano, for mission EASY 01, a training flight. The pilot happily played with his toy by flying dangerously close to the mountain flanks in a trip above the Alps. It was later disclosed that trainees were used to do it. Surely it must have given them a feeling of power, to frighten animals and people in peaceful valleys with their invincible weaponry. At 14.13 the plane, in an unwise attempt to fly under the cable holding a cabin which brought skiers from Cavalese to mount Cermis, hit the cable with its tail wing, causing the cabin to fall down. 

20 people died in the crash. The pilot, Marines captain Richard Ashby, was reimpatriated, preventing italian law to judge him.  

Ashby was later court-martialled to 6 months of inprisonment and expelled from the Marines corps. The sad thing is that he was not found guilty of the death of 20 people, but rather of having concealed a tape filmed for fun during the tragic flight. Navigator Joseph Schweitzer, who actually destroyed the tape, pleaded guilty and did not do time in prison.

So, am I crazy if I look at Baraldini on one side, sentenced by the United States to 43 years of inprisonment for driving a car, and Ashby on the other, sentenced by the same United States to 6 months for killing 20 people, and feel a itch down my spine ?

A terrorist compared to a servant of his country! A filthy communist on the same scale of a proud Marine! Surely I must be kidding ?

I am not kidding, but I will allow myself the following: tonight, a resounding fart is directed to people who worked to keep Baraldini inprisoned in the US (there’s a few and some even in Italy) and people who subtracted Ashby from a just trial in Italy. If only for the relatives of the 20 victims.



1. Manuela - November 26, 2008

I am Italian. I remember clearly that day of 1998. I live in Florida now, and i write on an Italian blog, I was searching for documents and updates cause i want to write something about this story that too many people want to forget.
Many families unfortunately didn’t even receive the economic settlement YET.
Thank you for your post. Thank you for what you wrote about Silvia Baraldini as well.
It would be nice to host your comments on our blog if you like. I would help with translation if/when needed.

2. dorigo - November 26, 2008

Hi Manuela,

I am italian too… no need for translations! And thank you for visiting. I will visit your site.


3. Jackie - February 26, 2010

I am a Maltese relative of Ms Silvia Baraldini now living back in Malta. I remember Aunty Romilde Scicluna who lived in Rome and to whose flat I went to and Carmela, Silvia’s mother. I was already away in the USA studying when Silvia’s sister, Marina, came to Malta and spent time with my brother. Sadly she died soon after, on that sabotaged plane. I only remember everyone telling me how Marina just lived to free Silvia from her sickening USA sentence. I have tried so hard to get in touch with Silvia. If somebody could post this message to inform Silvia that she has a relative in Malta who wants to meet her. I admire Silvia and what she stood for and her right to remain silent. Justice on the street. I have read and studied Chomsky and am delighted to know of the documentary

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