The Cervia affair


Anyone willing to collaborate in the quest for the truth, or aware of other episodes akin to the threats and warnings against military technicians hereby reported, may forward their information to

to have it sent to the weekly newsmagazine Avvenimenti (1) and to the Cervia family.

The following information comes from Gianluca Cicinelli's book

The Cervia Affair: a State Plot

Enquiry on the kidnapping and disappearance of Davide Cervia, electronic war expert I Libri dell'Altritalia (2) ed. (supplement to n. 35/1995 of Avvenimenti newsmagazine)

Davide Cervia was an everyday, quiet man. He had a wife, a family. One day he doesn't come back from work. Disappeared. Another woman, the police say. But somebody saw Davide Cervia forcibly pulled in a car.

It happens some time before the Gulf War. Cervia - but he understandably never told anyone - is a rare type of expert. He is a military specialist in electronic countermeasures. And on this quiet man's disappearance mysteries, messages, blackmail and lies begin to accumulate. State employees and high echelons deny and lie; the enquiries wallow in quicksands, and stop.

Davide was born in Sanremo in 1959 and lives there with his family till 1978, when he enlists as a volunteer in the Navy; later he will resign before the end of the six-year period of service. For in 1982 he had met Marisa Gentile, whom he married later the same year, and after the marriage he got family-sick; so he decided to resign one year in advance. In 1988 he moves to Velletri, where he works at Enertecnel Sud, a thirty minutes' hike from home.

Davide Cervia was last seen at 17:00 of September 12, 1990. "I saw a group of people pushing Davide into a deep-green car. I also saw them bash him and placing a handkerchief on his mouth, as if to put him under. Davide yelled and resisted, tried to break free. Then, perhaps he saw me or hoped I was in the garden, for he called me loudly, yelling my name". This was what Mario, an elderly person living alone as a custodian in a villa near the Cervia home, told Marisa, Davide's wife.

Some months later two persons appear at Mario's home. They pretend to be ensurance agents, but their demeanor is arrogant and imperious, and they insist for getting in, saying that they've got to talk with him. Mario doesn't trust them and takes shelter inside.

Marisa Gentile, Davide's wife, is accidentally put on the right track by an ex-colleague of Davide who is still in the military. When Marisa makes him aware of what happened, the military does not hesitate in correlating Davide's disappearance with his specialization.

An inspector of DIGOS (3) meets then Marisa, insisting for having the name of an ex-colleague of Davide who worked at La Spezia (4) but was born in Neaples. A description that enables Marisa to immediately recognize who the inspector is speaking about. He is a person who gave to Davide's family information about the Navy past of Davide, information that revealed itself exceedingly useful. "It was then" remembers Marisa "that I realized I was being wire- tapped, for I had never met that person, whom I only spoke with by phone".

This same ex-colleague of Davide happens to be visited by a man supposedly collecting information about the FIAT Uno (5) (sic). He then turns out to be a Public Security man, but his ranking and purposes are not clear. If they were to intimidate the marine, however, the mission is a complete success: the marine will ask Marisa not to rely on him anymore.

At the Capuchin monastery of Velletri arrives an anonymous letter from Grottaglie, near Taranto (6). The writer says she is the wife of a former petty officer that got cornered by strange and mysterious individuals which warned him to keep doing his job, if he wanted to stay out of trouble. The anonymity is justified by the fear of being spotted, thus exposing to excessive risks. The hope of the anonymous writer is that the enquiry will go on and that "the magistrates will enquire more accurately within the Secret Service" to fish the truth. On September 12, 1994, the Committee for the Truth on Davide Cervia blocked for twelve hours the office of the Ministry of Defense Private Secretary, in the presence of many cameramen and newspersons of many papers.

The Navy HQ will provide to Davide's family four different rosters, before finally handing over the true one, in which it is stated the qualification of "Ete/GE (7) specialist" L., another colleague of Davide Cervia, says: "Our Navy class started with 900 people. When you take the base course you don't even know there're such things as electronic war. The Elts, the electronic technicians, were 120. After the first three months we were down to 90. A year later, we were fifty, and at the end of the second year we were only 22, of which six only were system experts. We were proud of a 3D radar designed by Italian weapon industries; what we didn't understand, well, what really got us angry, was having sold it to 109 countries. We system experts were encouraged to take "tourist trips" with the ships, to boast and sell our weapon systems to foreign countries. We didn't even imagine the money running behind the weapon market.

"The building where we studied had armoured doors. We were kept under surveillance by the Services. You might discover that the amiable talker you had met on the train was a man Security had assigned to you.

"At the beginning of the course we had to take a secrecy oath, NATO level. You are then allowed access to all offices with a security clearance compatible with yours. For a foreign country it is almost impossible to grow its own technicians, because there are some key notions we're taught without which an electronic engineer would not be able to even read the equipment manuals we study. It's not a problem of being intelligent enough -- you just haven't the correct keys to understand. I met Davide at the Taranto petty officer training in 1979. He got in six months ahead of me and was the course leader, the first of the students."

The official enquiries stop to that 12th of September, 1990, and the silence - like the graveyard stone that surrounds the many Italian mysteries - threatens to make people forget a dramatic story involving our secret services - them again!, the Navy HQ and the military technology traders.

The magistrate leading the enquiries summons for the first time Davide Cervia's wife, Marisa Gentile, after six months from the technician's disappearance. The attorney Romano Miola, who follows the case, is waiting for her in his room, but he's not alone; with him there's the attorney general, Vito Giampietro; he will be the one to interrogate her. From the start, the contact with the Attorney Office people is not serene. The attorney asks, and keeps reminding Marisa, to answer his questions with "yes" or "no" only, and brusquely interrupts every attempt of hers of better explaining some circumstances. Dr. (8) Giampietro denies, contradicts and questions each and every circumstance reported by Marisa about her husband's disappearance.

The newsperson Laura Rosati asks for, and is received by, the attorney Romano Miola, who doesn't know yet the reason for the request and appears very amiable. This demeanor will abruptly and totally change as soon as the reporter utters the name of Davide Cervia. The attorney stands up in a hurry and dismisses her, gray-faced, turning his back to the reporter and obsessively repeating "I cannot say anything, please go away".

What can be only described as intimidation hits, more or less, anyone attempting to discover whatever is behind Cervia's kidnapping.

Despite the obvious importance of what was reported by L., a former military that had stgudied electronic countermeasure systems at Taranto with Davide Cervia, the enquirers do not attribute much weight to these revelations and to the "trips" the Italian Navy militaries take to advertise throughout the world the weapon system Davide Cervia is a specialist of.

L. resigned from the Navy after an accident; he was approached from a stranger offering him money to get back to the same work. He doesn't accept. He is threatened. His car's electrics take fire - as had happened to Davide Cervia - and he receives a phone call saying "Get it? It might be the car. It might be anything". He denounces the facts telling the enquirers that he has come to know of other technicians who got threatened by strangers, but oddly the enquirer does not even ask him who these technicians are. He will receive more warnings in the October of 1990, soon after Cervia's kidnapping. Nowadays he still lives hidden, and nobody protects him.

The enquirers listen instead to a mr. Giuseppe Carbone from Taranto. He pops up on January 22nd, 1991. He's the right man in the right place; with his version, everything sums up for those who lobby for the voluntary disappearance. No international intrigue, no kidnapping. Unluckily there is ample proof that Carbone did not even know, nor had ever met, Davide Cervia. All this proof will be needed to make the magistrates realize that Carbone isn't trustworthy; even so, no proceeding for falsehood is ever started against him. A mistery remains: how could he gain access to those things he did know about Davide, how could he know so well military officer working at the Ministry of Defense, five hundred miles from his home. Carbone turns out to have a quite rambling police record: embezzlement charges, recidive dud-chequing, all pardoned crimes, but yet they shouldn't have escaped the attention of the Cervia case enquirers.

When Cervia's wife, Marisa, started getting death threats against her whole family, she decided for a few days not to send the children to school. Two carabineers (9) repeatedly turn up at the school verifying the possibility of denouncing Marisa Cervia-Gentile for schooling default. Yet this procedure is entirely anomalous, since the schoolmasters are the ones who must notify the parents' schooling defaults.

At the TV show "I fatti vostri", Marisa Cervia told she's been offered six hundred thousand dollars to stop looking for Davide.

(1) italian for happenings

(2) roughly translatable as Otheritaly's Books

(3) acronym of Divisione Informazioni Generali Operazioni Speciali (Special Operations and General Information Division ), a peripheral office of Public Security. From 1974 the DIGOS is also in charge of anti-terrorism.

(4) city in Northern Italy, hosting one of the biggest Navy departments

(5) one of the most popular family cars in the 80s

(6) city in Southern Italy, hosting one of the biggest Navy departments

(7) Elettronica, TEcnico / Guerra Elettronica: electronic technician, electronic countermeasure specialist

(8) in Italian you would address a magistrate - and in some zones, just anybody else too - with the respectful title of doctor, abbreviated in Dr.

(9) Italian law enforcement officers


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