Flashback
A look back at this day in film history
September 17
Pier Paolo Pasolini November 2, 1975
Pier Paolo Pasolini murdered

On November 2, 1975, the body of radical Italian filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini was discovered on the desolate beach area of Ostia, just outside Rome. He had been murdered, run over by his own car multiple times. Hours after the discovery of his body, 17-year-old male prostitute Pino “The Frog” Pelosi was arrested after he was caught speeding in Pasolini’s Alfa Romeo; he would later confess to the murder, claiming that Pasolini tried to sodomize him with a wooden stick. Despite Pelosi’s confession and subsequent conviction, the circumstances of Pasolini’s death have continued to be the subject of constant debate. Friends of the gay poet, novelist and writer-director believed that his Communist beliefs may have been the real reason for his murder, while another theory is that Pasolini was killed by extortionists who had stolen footage from his final film, the highly controversial Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom. More significantly, Pelosi’s sole culpability has been widely questioned right from the start. There were reports of a car containing four people tailing Pasolini on the way to Ostia, the trial pathologist said that Pasolini was likely killed by more than one individual, and a 1977 court case (overturned in 1979) concluded that he’d been “murdered by Pelosi and persons unknown.” In 2005, Pelosi – who served 10 years in jail for Pasolini’s murder – spoke out, claiming he was innocent, that he had been forced to confess, and that three people with “a Southern accent” had killed the director. The case was subsequently reopened, but then closed again due to insufficient new evidence. In 2010, there were more new developments: in March, former opposition leader Walter Veltroni wrote an open letter in the Corriere della Sera newspaper to Italy’s Justice Minister, Angelino Alfano, asking why the case ("riddled with holes, like many others of the time") had not been reopened, and in June, another newspaper, Oggi, got hold of documents which claimed that brothers Franco and Giuseppe Borsellino (both now deceased from AIDS), had told an undercover cop in 1976 that they and one other person had killed Pasolini.


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