Italian secret agents staged an elaborate hoax to try to protect right-wing extremists who killed 85 people in a bomb attack on Bologna railway station in 1980, a court has ruled.

Licio Gelli, former leader of the notorious P-2 masonic lodge once branded as "a state within the state," was among the conspirators.Gelli, ex-secret agent Francesco Pazienza and two former senior military intelligence officers - Gen. Pietro Musumeci and Col. Giuseppe Belmonte - were sentenced on Monday to seven years in jail for slander.