a mystery that has lasted for 60 years- Corriere.it

Enrico Mattei, l

It is the evening of October 27, 1962. There are three minutes to 19. A twin-engine Paris II, which took off at 16:57 from Catania and headed for Milan Linate, is flying over the Pavese countryside, not far from Melegnano. From the control tower they follow the maneuver a few minutes after landing, when the aircraft disappears from the radar. The immediate alarm, but in the fields near the village of Bascap, in the province of Pavia, rescuers find only the wreckage of the plane. And the remains, scattered almost everywhere, of the three men who were on board: Enrico Mattei, president of Eni, the pilot Imerio Bertuzzi and the American journalist William McHale, of the magazine Time – Life, in charge of writing an article about him. Within 24 hours, the news went around the world. Thus began one of the many unsolved mysteries of Italy.

The origins

Exactly 60 years after his death, the Mattei case is a cold case. Did the aircraft crash due to pilot illness? Or was it an attack? Of course, the Paris II biplane had already suffered sabotage in the past and Mattei was a much discussed man, who had shared public opinion with his unscrupulousness. Born in Acqualagna on April 29, 1906 in a family of modest extraction, Enrico Mattei began working as a worker in a tannery in Rome, but it was short-lived: within a short time he became its director. When he moved to Milan he reinvents himself as a sales representative for the Max Meyer paint company, but only thirty years old he started his own business, the Lombard chemical industry. But to animate Mattei are not only ambition and an incredible flair: the son of sergeant Antonio wants to deserve what he has and in those years he returns to study to graduate as an accountant (My father said that it was ugly to be poor, because one cannot study and without qualifications cannot be made, he will remember many years later during the speech for the conferral of an honorary degree at the University of Camerino). But the winds of war blow over Italy and the dreams of the young Mattei. The conflict is a parenthesis that sees him commander of the Volunteer Corps for Freedom as a “white” partisan, for his Catholic extraction. After the liberation of Milan, he leads the parade of May 6, 1945 alongside Luigi Longo, Ferruccio Parri and Raffaele Cadorna. Three days later he was appointed liquidator of Snam and Agip, the state oil company founded by Mussolini in 1926.

Enrico Mattei, the man who challenged


Instead of following the instructions of the new Republican government, seeing possible developments, Mattei decides not to close the state bandwagon and resumes drilling abandoned during the conflict. And a success: in Caviaga, in the Po Valley, he finds methane, while in 1949, with a real twist, he suddenly gushes black gold from a well in Cortemaggiore. Italy has oil. It has enough to be self-sufficient – the enthusiastic announcement on the Corriere della Sera of the time – and perhaps it will be able to compete with the other producing Powers. But the casual management of the state’s resources by the entrepreneur and newly elected in the ranks of the Christian Democrats ignites a strong debate in Parliament. Nothing that stops him anyway. While building the architecture of his creature, ranging from petrol pumps, to gas pipelines, to modern Agip Motels, Mattei has no time to go for the subtle. In the construction of the petrochemical center of Ravenna he himself will boast of having violated more than 8 thousand laws and ordinances. And so to the accusation of giving money to parties in exchange for favors and also of financing the fascists of the Italian Social Movement, Mattei replies without hiding: I use parties like a taxi. I get on, pay the fare and get off.

The (transversal) supports of politics

Thanks to the DC, but also to a political majority transversal to the whole Parliament, Mattei faces the international stage: he buys oil from the USSR, signs an agreement with the Persian ski offering him 75% of the profits, looks for oil in Libya, Egypt , Jordan, stepping on the toes of the Anglo-American Seven Sisters cartel. While in Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria, Mattei comes to meddle in internal affairs attracting many antipathies, and in August 1961 he receives a threatening letter from the OAS, the terrorist association of the French far right, opposed to Algerian independence.

Mattei's body is taken away from the accident site
Mattei’s body is taken away from the accident site

French hostility

But Mattei does not deliberately seek enemies. In some moments of the Mattei presidency – his successor at Eni, Eugenio Cefis tells Dario Di Vico, in an interview published in Courier December 6, 2002 – perhaps the logic of “many enemies, much honor” could also prevail and with hindsight one can certainly say that there was some mythology. Frankly, I don’t think anyone could have deluded themselves that killing Mattei could destroy Eni. Nobody could think that … If I have to think in terms of political fiction, then more than an American sabotage I would think of an attack of French hostility. They still had a poisoned tooth from our relations with Algeria.

Vincenzo Calia’s version

The decades pass and the hypotheses on the death of Enrico Mattei accumulate. The investigations into the death collided with serious misdirections. On the dock are the OAS, the French far-right organization, French intelligence, the CIA, the mafia. Ssi also thinks that the journalist Mauro De Mauro was killed by the mafia as he was about to divulge what he had discovered about Mattei’s death, while for others Pier Paolo Pasolini would have been assassinated because he too had begun to investigate the death of the president of Eni. The first investigations by the air force and the judiciary close for investigation as an accidental disaster. To put everything into question, we must wait until 1994, when a magistrate from Pavia, Vincenzo Calia, decides to reopen the investigation struck by the revelations of the boss Tommaso Buscetta who had linked the Bascap accident and the death of the journalist Mauro De Mauro who was investigating the accident of the entrepreneur on behalf of the director Francesco Rosi, struggling with the film The Mattei case. Magistrate Calia – writes Dario Di Vico in Corriere della Sera of 7 March 2003 – asked for the investigation to be closed but vigorously argued that, in his opinion, Mattei was the victim of an attack whose principals must be sought in Italy ….

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About Banner Leon

Videogames entered his life in the late '80s, at the time of the first meeting with Super Mario Bros, and even today they make it a permanent part, after almost 30 years. Pros and defects: he manages to finish Super Mario Bros in less than 5 minutes but he has never finished Final Fight with a credit ... he's still trying.

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