France destroyed the Itavia Airlines Flight 870 passenger plane in an attempt to assassinate Libya’s then-dictator Muammar Gaddafi, former Italian prime minister Giuliano Amato claimed in an interview with la Repubblica published Saturday.
He further called on French President Emmanuel Macron to stop "hiding the truth."
Amato claimed that on June 27, 1980, a French missile caused the crash of Itavia Airlines Flight 870.
"A plan had been launched to hit the plane on which Gaddafi was flying,” Amato told the source, which was cited by Ansa. “But the Libyan leader escaped the trap because he was warned by [former Italian prime minister Bettino] Craxi. Now the Elysée can wash away the shame that weighs on Paris.”
"After 40 years, the innocent victims of Ustica have not received justice. Why continue to hide the truth? The time has come to shed light on a terrible state secret. Macron could do it. And NATO could do it.
"Who knows now, speak: it would have great merits towards the families of the victims and towards history", Amato said in a new call for justice. "The most credible version is that of the responsibility of the French Air Force, with the complicity of the Americans. They wanted to kill Gaddafi, flying on a Mig of his air force. The plan envisaged simulating a NATO exercise, a staging that would have allowed the attack to be passed off as an involuntary accident".
"No act concerning the DC9 tragedy is covered by state secrecy and over the decades a long job has been carried out by the judicial authority and by the parliamentary commissions of inquiry."
Amato went on to say that Gaddafi had been warned of the attempted assassination and “ the missile dropped against the Mig ended up hitting the DC9. The most accredited hypothesis is that that missile was launched by a French fighter".
"I learned later, but without having proof that it was Craxi who warned Gaddafi. He had no interest in it coming out: he would have been accused of infidelity to NATO and of espionage.”
The crash of Flight 870
Flight 870 took off from Bologna to Palermo in 1980, but the flight and all 81 people aboard never arrived.
One hour into the scheduled flight, the plane disappeared from radar screens. Several hours after, the wreckage of the flight was discovered on Tyrrhenian Sea off the island of Ustica, near Sicily.
Italian investigators have attempted for years to understand what led to the crash, with the remains of the DC-9 plane having been placed back together and inspected in Rome.
Theories on what caused the failed flight have spread throughout Italy and amongst the family of the victims, the Guardian reported in 2006. Many people believe that it was the result of a terror attack while others believe it was the result of a mechanical or structural failure.
On the night the plane flew, there was significant military activity from French, British, American and Libyan military aircraft, the Guardian claimed. The investigative magistrate at the time expressed their belief that the plane had likely been caught in a military crosshair.
Judge Rosario Priore claimed that the truth about the plane crash was hidden by the Italian government and members of the Secret Service. Four Italian Air Force generals and five other people were indicted and charged with high treason and perjury.