Italian navy vessel smuggled crates of cigarettes from Libya

An Italian naval vessel was used to smuggle crates of cigarettes while returning from a mission to stop migrants from travelling from Libya to Europe, the navy confirmed on Wednesday September 19th after revelations in the press.

Italian navy vessel smuggled crates of cigarettes from Libya
File photo: Giovanni Isolino/AFP.

The Caprera ship had aboard more than 700 kg of contraband cigarettes, a total of 3,600 cartons in 72 boxes, according to the website of TV programme Le Iene.

The vessel had spent three and a half months in the port of Tripoli on an assistance mission with the Libyan coastguard to intercept and rescue migrant boats in the mediterranean.

When the Caprera returned to the southern Italian base of Brindisi in mid-July, the commander ordered a complete search that revealed the crates of foreign cigarettes, according to a statement from the navy.

The cigarettes have been seized and a judicial inquiry and internal investigation has begun.

The Caprera ship, which had once been part of the Italian navy's former Mare Nostrum rescue operation in the Mediterranean, had spent 108 days in Libya assisting the Libyan coast guard to identify departing vessels carrying migrants bound for Italy, according to a report in Italian daily Repubblica.

The cigarettes had been discovered after a routine check when the boat docked in Brindisi on July 16th this year. A member of the navy was stopped by Italy's financial crime police, the Guardia di Finanza (GdF), carrying a bag full of the cigarettes on the same night, according to Il Mattino. The GdF then seized the rest. The investigation continues.

READ MORE: Italian foreign minister in Libya for talks with Marshal Haftar


Italy’s president calls for ‘full truth’ on anniversary of Bologna bombing

President Sergio Mattarella said on Tuesday it was the state's duty to shed more light on the 1980 bombing of Bologna's train station, on the 42nd anniversary of the attack that killed 85 people and injured 200.

Italy's president calls for 'full truth' on anniversary of Bologna bombing

On August 2nd 1980, a bomb exploded in the railway station’s waiting room, causing devastation on an unprecedented scale.

Five members of terrorist groups were later convicted in relation to the bombing, the worst episode in Italy’s ‘Years of Lead’ period of political violence in the 1970s and 80s.

Most recently, in 2020, a former member of the far-right Armed Revolutionary Nucleus (NAR) was sentenced to life imprisonment for providing logistical support to those who carried out the attack.

But suspicions remain of cover-ups and the involvement of “deviant elements” within the nation’s security services, reported Italian news agency Ansa.

READ ALSO: Bologna massacre: 40 years on, questions remain over Italy’s deadliest postwar terror attack

“The bomb that killed people who happened to be at the station on that morning 42 years ago still reverberates with violence in the depths of the country’s conscience,” Mattarella said in a speech marking the anniversary on Tuesday.

“It was the act of cowardly men of unequalled inhumanity, one of the most terrible of the history of the Italian Republic.

A train compartment at Bologna station pictured following the 1980 bombing attributed to the neo-fascist terrorist organization Nuclei Armati Rivoluzionari.

“It was a terrorist attack that sought to destabilise democratic institutions and sow fear, hitting ordinary citizens going about their everyday tasks.

“On the day of the anniversary our thoughts go, above all, to the relatives forced to suffer the greatest pain.

“The neo-fascist nature of the massacre has been established in court and further steps have been made to unveil the cover-ups and those who ordered the attack in order to comply with the Republic’s duty to seek the full truth”.

The bombing remains Western Europe’s fourth deadliest postwar terror attack, and one of the most devastating in Italy’s history.