French film star Fanny Ardant arrived at the Venice Film Festival on Thursday amid continuing polemics over her recent expressions of admiration for the Red Brigades, Italy’s far-left terrorist movement, and its founder.
The 58-year-old French actress triggered the row last month by telling an Italian magazine: “I have always considered the Red Brigades phenomenon very absorbing and passionate“.

Renato Curcio is a hero for me,” said the actress, referring to the leftist militant who founded the Red Brigades in 1970. Ardant praised Curcio for remaining true to his left-wing ideals. She said he “didn’t become a businessman” like his French left-wing contemporaries.

The Red Brigades, Italy’s most infamous far-left terrorist group, spread terror in the 1970s and 1980s. Their most notorious act was the 1978 murder of Christian Democrat leader Aldo Moro.

Rome prosecutors are probing Welfare Minister Paolo Ferrero of the Communist Refoundation Party in connection with his controversial nomination of a former Red Brigade terrorist as part of a government advisory panel on drugs.

Ferrero has already annulled the appointment of Susanna Ronconi and the minister himself revealed on Thursday that prosecutors were looking into the nomination which enraged right-wingers in parliament.

Although he had initially defended the choice of Ronconi, he said legal advisors had judged the nomination illegitimate because she has been banned from public office.

Sources at the welfare ministry confirmed on Friday that prosecutors have sent Ferrero formal notice that he is being investigated. Under Italian law this does not necessarily mean he will be prosecuted. The probe aims to establish whether the minister can be charged with abuse of office.

Details of the case have been given to the Tribunal of Ministers, the only body which can carry out full investigations involving members of the government.

A resurgent Red Brigades group smashed earlier this week was ready to strike using automatic weapons and fake police uniforms, Italian officials said on Thursday.
The arms cache discovered Wednesday near Padua, officials said, included a kalashnikov, an Uzi, three hand guns, bulletproof vests and fake uniforms. It showed the “operational efficiency the group had reached and the danger they posed,” the government said. “It was the complete equipment needed to carry out any kind of attack,” police said.

Those arrested are accused of organising a “terrorist association constituting an armed group”. Calling itself the Political-Military Communist Party (PCPM), the group adhered to the “second position”, the so-called “movimentista” faction, of the Red Brigades (BR). The group’s members were split into three cells in Milan, Padua and Turin. Among items seized by police were the weapons they used for shooting practice in the countryside near Rovigo and Milan. Eight of those arrested are CGIL trade unionists, one of whom is believed to be the leader of the Turin cell.