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Bitterness is evident in Moro letters

Italy's political establishment has been shaken by letters from Aldo Moro, the former Italian prime minister killed by Red Brigades guerrillas in 1978. Two weeks ago, 418 pages of unpublished letters and documents Moro wrote during his two-month captivity were found hidden in a false wall in a former Brigades hideout.

Unable to stop leaks to newspapers, a parliamentary commission rejected a bitter appeal by Moro's family and made them public Thursday.

Since then, newspapers have been filled with Moro's haunting letters to his family and his plaintive notes to politicians.

"Why must an innocent man be slaughtered?" he wrote, accusing the leadership of the Christian Democratic Party of spinelessness and fragility.

The discovery of the letters revived a 12-year-old debate over whether the government should have struck a deal with the terrorists to save his life.

Moro felt betrayed, abandoned and sacrificed by the Christian Democrats, of which he was president when the Brigades kidnapped him March 16, 1978. They shot him to death 55 days later.

Moro, who is revered by the Christian Democrats as a martyr, wrote that if he came out alive he would abandon the party.

His bitterness spared no one, including current President Francesco Cossiga, who was interior minister at the time, and Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti, who holds the same post he did in 1978.

Moro accused Cossiga of indecision and of "killing me three times" _ for not giving him adequate protection, for rejecting the Brigades' demands for an exchange of political prisoners, and for making comments which outraged his captors.

Among the documents found were Moro's last will, a political analysis of postwar Italy, and an emotional letter to his friend, the late Pope Paul VI, begging the pontiff to intercede with Italian leaders to help save his life.