Gangster's Tomb Could Hold Kidnap Case Clues


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The Vatican has given permission for a notorious gangster's tomb to be opened by detectives trying to solve the case of an Italian girl missing for nearly 30 years.


Emanuela Orlandi's family say they will "await the facts"

Emanuela Orlandi, a Vatican employee's daughter, was kidnapped when she was 15 in 1983 and her body has never been found.

It has long been suspected she could be buried in the same place as infamous mobster Enrico De Pedis.

But now an anonymous call to a television show in Italy has sparked police into action.

The caller to the show - similar to Crimewatch in the UK - said: "If you want to solve the Orlandi kidnapping, go and see who is buried in the crypt of the Basilica of St Apollinaris."

De Pedis, leader of the vicious Banda della Magliana, was shot dead by members of his own gang after a spectacular falling out in 1990.

Despite his crimes, church officials in Rome controversially allowed his body to be interred in the crypt at the Vatican-owned church near Piazza Navona because they said he had made generous donations.

It is normally reserved for saints, martyrs and cardinals. Only De Pedis' widow is said to have the keys to the tomb.

Police have since identified the caller as Carlo Alberto De Tomasi, whose father was in the Magliana gang.

He had tried to start ransom negotiations with Emanuela's family less than a week after she vanished.

In a twist that would not be out of place in a Dan Brown thriller, investigators will now search the crypt.

"The Vicariate of Rome expresses no objection to the request of Italian magistrates that the tomb of Signor De Pedis be inspected," the Vicariate said in a statement.

It is not initially clear whether they expect to find the teenager's remains or uncover documents that will provide further leads in the case.

Natalina Orlandi, Emanuela's sister, said: "We await the facts."

There have been several murky sub-plots to Emanuela's kidnapping over the last three decades.

One theory suggested she was snatched on KGB orders to use as a bargaining tool for the release of Mehmet Ali Agca, who tried to assassinate Pope John Paul II in 1981.

Another implicated Archbishop Paul Marcinkus, who was the head of the Vatican Bankb in 1983.

Marcinkus, who died in 2006, was associated with the collapse of Banco Ambrosiano - a bank with Vatican links - and the death of its director Roberto Calvi, who was found hanged under Blackfriars Bridge in London in 1982.