Enrico De Pedis tomb
Enrico De Pedis tomb - Vatican officials to allow cracking of Mafia don's tomb, Enrico De Pedis was the boss of an Italian crime organization that operated in the 1970s and '80s, until he was killed in 1990 and subsequently buried in the Catholic Basilica of Sant'Apollinare in Rome. De Pedis had long been suspected of kidnapping 15-year-old Emanuela Orlandi, and now Vatican officials are allowing De Pedis' diamond-studded tomb to be opened.
Church chiefs have given permission for an Italian gangster's tomb to be opened in an investigation worthy of a Dan Brown thriller.Enrico De Pedis, leader of a murderous gang known as the Banda della Magliana, was gunned down aged just 38, by members of his outfit after they fell out in 1990.Detectives investigating the disappearance of Emanuela Orlandi, 15, in 1983, believe De Pedis is linked to her kidnap. The body of the Vatican employee's daughter has never been found.
It is not clear whether they expect to find Emanuela's remains in the tomb or documents that could shed light on her disappearance.There were raised eyebrows when despite his criminal past church officials allowed De Pedis to be buried in the crypt of the Basilica of Sant'Apollinare in central Rome.At the time it was said the burial was given the go ahead because De Pedis had 'repented while in jail and also done a lot of work for charity,' including large donations to the Catholic Church.
De Pedis, whose name on the the £12,000 tomb is spelt in diamonds, was buried in Sant'Apollinare church after he was gunned down in the city's famous Campo De Fiori, a popular destination for tourists.He and his gang controlled the lucrative drug market in Rome and were also rumoured to have a 'free hand' because of their links with police and Italian secret service agents.
The disappearance of young Emanuela reads like the roller coaster plot of a Dan Brown Da Vinci Code thriller with a touch of The Godfather thrown in for good measure. Twelve years ago a skull was found in the confessional box of a Rome church and tests were carried out on it to see if it was the girl after a mystery tip off but they proved negative.
The collapse was linked to the murder of Roberto Calvi - dubbed God's Banker because of his Vatican links - whose body was found hanging under Blackfriars Bridge in London in 1982.His pockets filled with cash and stones and it was originally recorded as a suicide but police believe he was murdered by the Mafia after a bungled money laundering operation.
Rome prosecutor Giuseppe Pignatone, who is investigating the disappearance as part of a cold case review, has been liaising with Vatican officials and church authorities to discuss the best way to open the tomb. The operation is expected to take place next month.A source close to the prosecutor said: 'The go ahead has finally been given and now the tomb will be opened in an attempt to try and resolve this case or put an end to all the stories that have been circulating about it for years.'
Pietro Orlandi, Emanuela's brother, seized on the remarks, saying it was time for the Vatican to come clean and calling on investigators to open the tomb of De Pedis to establish whether it contained his sister's remains.
'The Holy See now has a moral duty to give a response after refusing for years to collaborate with the magistracy,' he said. 'Their silence is becoming embarrassing.'The Vatican insists that it has divulged all it knew about the case. 'If someone on the inside had known something, they would have said,' said Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, 78, who was number three in the Vatican Secretariat of State at the time.
Father Federico Lombardi, the Pope's official spokesman, said: 'There will be no objection from us regarding the opening of the tomb. There are no secrets in the Vatican, nothing has been hidden and we have always cooperated fully with the authorities.'Sant Apollinare is a 7th Century church, which stands close to the site of Roman baths built by the Emperor Nero - in another connection with Dan Brown it is used by Opus Dei, the secret sect mentioned in the Da Vinci Code.It comes under the jurisdiction of the Vicariate of Rome, who ultimately answer to the Vatican.