Italy still yearns for answers, 40 years after the Ustica disaster
Sunday, 28 June 2020
Italian President Sergio Mattarella on Saturday stressed the need to continue the search for “decisive answers” on the Ustica air disaster that claimed 81 lives on 27 June 1980 in circumstances that have never been clarified.
The commitment to ensuring that the events of “that dramatic evening” are clarified cannot and must not cease, Mattarella said in a press release on the commemoration of the disaster.
“Finding decisive answers, ensuring a clear and complete reconstruction, requires the commitment of the institutions and the collaboration of the allied countries with which we share common values,” he said, as a remembrance ceremony was being held in the northeastern town of Bologna.
On the evening of 27 June 1980, a DC-9 from the Itavia airline crashed in the Tyrrhenian Sea near the island of Ustica, north of Sicily, while on a flight between Bologna and Palermo, killing all 81 passengers and crew.
Forty years on, the families of the victims are still calling for truth and justice in the matter, which remains etched in the collective memory of the Italian people and is considered one of the worst air disasters in the history of the country.
The theory advanced by many Italian experts is that the tragedy occurred when one or two Libyan planes pursued by U.S. fighter jets followed the itinerary of the civilian plane to escape their radars.
Caught in the crossfire, the DC 9 was either shot down by mistake or collided with one of the planes present in the area, according to this “war scenario.”
The discovery of the wreckage of a Libyan MiG-23 in the mountains of Calabria, southern Italy, on 18 July 1980 added fuel to this theory. In 2003, Libyan leader Muammar Khadaffi accused the U.S. of attempting to assassinate him.
However, Washington and Paris have always denied that their planes were involved in the tragedy.
The Ustica disaster has spawned a host of suppositions and hypotheses, but the exact circumstances and responsibilities have never been established.