Me Irène Terrel, the historical lawyer of the former Italian brigadists, goes back to the front

By Lucas Minisini

Posted on March 23, 2022 at 1:58 p.m. – Updated on March 24, 2022 at 5:38 a.m.

“I imagined that one day I would eat pizza with my father, where he grew up, in Italy”, breathes Felix, 30 years old. His father, an Italian exile, was arrested in the spring of 2021. Seated near the young man, in the basement of an Italian canteen in the north of Paris (surnames are not published at the request of those concerned), on Tuesday March 8, Concetta, 63, replies that they “dreamed” all. Claudio, Pascale and Marie, the three other people present that day, approve. But everyone also knows that it is impossible.

Despite a “great angst” and a lot of ” confusion “, the small troop, united, tries not to lose hope. They cling to a name, often mentioned in their discussions: Me Irène Terrel, their husband’s, wife’s or father’s lawyer. These former radical militants of the Italian extreme left have known it, for some, for forty years. Others have become ” friends ” of the lawyer. During the “years of lead” (1968-1982), they were accused of having had a role in terrorist attacks.

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At the time, all were sentenced to heavy prison terms. Sometimes in perpetuity. Like several hundred former activists, they fled their judgment and found refuge in France from the 1980s and 1990s. They founded families there, worked and envisaged a peaceful future. Far from the struggle and from Italy.

Everything changes on April 28, 2021. At 6 a.m., seven of them (Roberta Cappelli, Marina Petrella, Giovanni Alimonti, Enzo Calvitti, Narciso Manenti, Giorgio Pietrostefani and Sergio Tornaghi) are arrested, in France, by the anti-terrorist police . Three others (Maurizio Di Marzio, Luigi Bergamin and Raffaele Ventura) will follow soon after.

Nicknamed the “Red Shadows” by the Italian press, in reference to the Red Brigades, these ten people were arrested on the decision of Emmanuel Macron, in response to insistent extradition requests made by the Italian State for several years. The files are examined by the chamber of instruction, at the court of appeal, from Wednesday March 23, each week, for a month. In the basement of the restaurant, Concetta summarizes: “We are now in the hands of Irène Terrel. »

Alerted by Abbé Pierre

Nothing could suggest that M.e Terrel, now in his seventies, was to become the counsel of dozens of these “exiles” Italians, symbol of a tragic part of their country’s history. At the time, young Irène Terrel, a former student of literature, philosophy and law in Paris, chose to become a lawyer to “create a gateway in the face of the institution which crushes the individual”, says the one who worked with Gisèle Halimi for a while. “The main thing for me is to combine the law, the human and the political. »

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