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Calvi acquittals upheld

But verdict 'confirms murder', prosecutor claims

07 May, 15:37
Calvi acquittals upheld (by Denis Greenan).

(ANSA) - Rome, May 7 - A Rome appeals court on Friday upheld the acquittals of three people charged with conspiring with the Mafia to murder 'God's Banker' Roberto Calvi in London 28 years ago.

The appeals judges took two hours to clear jailed Mafia boss Pippo Calo', Sardinian wheeler-dealer Flavio Carboni and Rome crime boss Ernesto Diotallevi.

Legal experts said they believed the written sentence, due within two months, would give the same grounds for the verdict as in the original trial in 2007, insufficient evidence.

Prosecutor Luca Tescaroli, who had been seeking life terms for the three, said he would wait for the detailed explanation before deciding whether to appeal to Italy's ultimate court of appeal, the Cassation Court.

But he already stressed that "while the three have been acquitted again, this verdict confirms that Roberto Calvi was murdered".

"The sentence has to be respected, but for the banker's family, who had to wait 18 years for a murder charge to be brought, it has killed Calvi all over again".

Making his sentencing request a month ago, Tescaroli said the three were helped by the Mafia in staging the murder under London's Blackfriar's Bridge in 1982 to make it look like a suicide.

Tescaroli said Calvi was murdered "to punish him for taking possession of large sums of money belonging to criminal organisations".

Carboni's lawyer claimed his client had been the victim of "judicial persecution" while an attorney for Calo' said "the trial was doomed from the start" and Diotallevi's lawyer said "it had no reason to be opened".

Two other defendants in the original trial, Carboni's former girlfriend Manuela Kleinszig and smuggler Silvano Vittor, were not in their dock since their acquittals had been confirmed by another court.

At the time of his death, Calvi had been a leading light in Italian banking circles for many years.

In 1975 he became chairman and managing director of the Banco Ambrosiano, at the time Italy's biggest private bank.

His death was originally ruled a suicide but Italian prosecutors later accused the defendants of killing him in revenge for not paying back laundered money to the Mafia.

'THREE MOTIVES'.

Prosecutors claimed there were at least three motives for the killing.

These included Calvi's mismanagement of the Mafia's money; the possibility that he would reveal how it was laundered by the Ambrosiano; and to gain leverage among Calvi's extensive network of contacts in masonic lodges, the subversive Propaganda Due (P2) lodge, Vatican bank Istituto per le Opere di Religione (IOR), political and institutional figures, and public-sector agencies.

Defence attorneys dismissed the claims as "fantasy".

A probe against former P2 chief Licio Gelli and ten others for their alleged involvement in Calvi's death was dropped last year, also on insufficient evidence.

The investigation into the death of Calvi, who earned the nickname 'God's Banker' by working closely with IOR, was re-opened 13 years ago.

Calvi was found hanging under the well-known London landmark in June 1982, pockets bulging with banknotes and bricks.

The suicide verdict came a few months after his death.

But a second autopsy indicated that someone put the bricks in Calvi's pockets before stringing him up.

According to theories aired over the years by informants, Calvi worked hand-in-hand with Mafia-linked banker Michele Sindona - killed in jail by a poisoned cup of coffee in 1986 - to set up a complicated web of banking and insurance interests.

Many paths were smoothed, the informants said, by his membership of the lodge led by Gelli, who, now 90, is under house arrest after receiving a 12-year sentence for the Ambrosiano collapse.

Informants also claimed Calvi was forced into a corner by his exposure to the Vatican Bank, then led by American cardinal Paul Marcinkus, who died in 2002 in Arizona.

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