On August 27, 1923 the Italian general Enrico Tellini, two of his aides, their interpreter and a chauffeur fell into an ambush and were assassinated by unknown assailants at the border crossing of Kakavia, which is near the town of Ioannina, within Greek territory. Upon news of the murder, anti-Greek demonstrations broke out in Italy
Italy sent an ultimatum to Greece on August 29, 1923, demanding: (1) a complete official apology at the Italian legation in Athens, (2) a solemn funeral in the Catholic cathedral in Athens in the presence of all the Greek government, (3) military honours for the bodies of the victims, (4) full honours by the Greek fleet to the Italian fleet which would be sent to Piraeus, (5) capital punishment for the guilty, (6) an indemnity of 50 million lire within five days of receipt of the note and (7) a strict inquiry, to be carried out quickly with the assistance of the Italian military attaché. and must rely in 24 hours
Greece replied to Italy on August 30, 1923, accepting four of the demands
Mussolini and the Italian cabinet were not satisfied with the reply of the Greek government and declared that it was unacceptable.On August 31, 1923, a squadron of the Italian Navy bombarded the Greek island of Corfu and landed 5000 troops. On September 1, Greece appealed to the League of Nations.
On September 8 the Conference of Ambassadors announced to both Greece and Italy, as well as to the League of Nations, the terms upon which the dispute should be settled.
The decision was that:
- the Greek Fleet shall render a salute of 21 guns at Piraeus to the Italian Fleet, which will enter the port, followed by French and British warships, which shall be included in the salute
- a funeral service shall be attended by the Greek Cabinet,
- military honours shall be rendered to the slain upon embarkation at Preveza,
- Greece shall deposit 50,000,000 lire in a Swiss bank as a guarantee,
- the highest Greek military authority must apologise to the British, French, and Italian representatives at Athens,
- there shall be a Greek inquiry into the murders, which must be supervised by a special international commission presided over by the Japanese Lieutenant-Colonel Shibuya, who was a military attaché of the Japanese embassy, and which must be completed by September 27,
- Greece must guarantee the commission's safety and defray its expenses and
- the conference requested the Greek Government to communicate its complete acceptance immediately, separately, and simultaneously to the British, French, and Italian representatives at Athens.
- In addition, the conference requested the Albanian Government to facilitate the commission's work in Albanian territory.
In Italy everyone was satisfied with the Conference's decision and praised Mussolini