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March 19, 2002
Italy: top government advisor gunned down
UPI SpecialCorrespondent
ROME -- Two gunmen on a motorcycle killed a senior adviser to Italian Labor Minister Roberto Maroni outside his Bologna home
Tuesday, police said, raising fears that the political violence that terrorized Italy in the 1970s and 1980s could return.

Marco Biagi, 52, an academic best known as the main author of a controversial labor reform proposal unveiled in January, was
pronounced dead on the scene, according to police speaking on the television news program La 7.

According to police, the gunmen fired at Biagi four times and hit him twice, killing him instantly. No group has claimed responsibility for
the killing.

Police said they were operating under the assumption that the killing was carried out by domestic terrorists, possibly the radical left-wing
Red Brigade group that kidnapped and killed former Prime Minister Aldo Moro in 1978.

But the mayor of Bologna told La 7 that he believed the murder was in response to Biagi's controversial labor reform, which enraged the
political left in Italy by peeling back some of the country's long-standing job guarantees that made it difficult to fire workers.

Biagi was not a political appointee and had worked for governments on both the left on the right. But he is best known for his labor
reform efforts, one of the central planks of the government led by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

Maroni, Biagi's boss in the government, is a member of the controversial Northern League, the third largest member of Berlusconi's
ruling coalition that is best known for anti-immigration and nationalistic stances.

In a statement, Berlusconi said that the murder "fills all Italians with pain." He said that extremists would be fought in the country "with all
Italy's power." Berlusconi also said that Interior Minister Claudio Scajola, who was in the United States for a series of bilateral talks,
would immediately fly to Italy and report to parliament on Wednesday.

An opinion column written by Biagi, whose main job was as a professor of business administration at the University of Modena and
Reggio Emilia, appeared on the front page of the financial daily Il Sole/24 Ore on Tuesday, explaining his views on why the controversial
labor reforms he wrote are necessary for Italy to grow at the same rate as the rest of the European Union.

Labor unions threatened to strike later this month to protest the proposed reforms, but that did not stop union leaders from denouncing
the killing. Some union leaders said late Tuesday that they would call on their members to take to the streets of Italy's largest cities on
Wednesday to protest against terrorism.

The killing is the second incident thought to have ties to domestic terrorism in Italy in less than a month. In February, a small bomb
exploded outside the interior ministry in Rome. Police are still investigating that attack.

Following the murder of Moro, the former prime minister, the Red Brigades were largely inactive in Italy until 1999, when Massimo
D'Antona, a key adviser to the Ministry of Labor, was gunned down as he left his office in Rome.
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