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Vatican ordered to pay damages for radio electrosmog

Station ''saddened'' by supreme court's decision

25 February, 15:29
Vatican ordered to pay damages for radio electrosmog (ANSA) - Rome, February 25 - Vatican Radio expressed ''sadness'' Friday after Italy's supreme court upheld an order for it to pay damages to a small town near Rome because of electromagnetic pollution created by its transmitters.

The case exploded in 2001 when it emerged that 'electrosmog' produced by transmitters near Cesano exceeded levels allowed by Italian law.

The station swiftly cut the strength of its signals, but the case went to court amid news reports that referred to a regional health authority study which found children in the Cesano area were six times more likely to develop leukemia than their peers elsewhere.

The Codacons consumer association, which backed Cesano inhabitants' claims, hailed the Cassation Court's decision to reject Vatican Radio's appeal against the compensation order.

''It's a great victory. Finally justice is done and the poeple of Cesano will be able to have the compensation they are rightfully due,'' said Codacons President Carlo Rienzi.

''We're satisfied. Now we'll see what happens with the other more serious question of the increase in mortality for leukemia among Cesano inhabitants''. Vatican Radio denied its transmitters had caused health problems for local people and said it had always respected international treaties on emission limits.

It also pointed out that the supreme court ruled against it even though prosecutors had agreed with the station's arguments and asked for the charges to be dropped.

''This sentence comes at the end of a long, stormy trial process which has seen the pontifical broadcaster subject to unjust accusations,'' a Vatican Radio statement said.

''Since an agreement with the Italian government in 2001, the limits set by Italian law have been attentively respected, as shown by repeated measurements carried out by the competent Italian public institutions.

''There is no justified reason for concern for any part of the population''. Rome's Court of Appeal will decide how much Vatican Radio will have to pay in damages.

The supreme court also upheld a previous ruling that overturned a 10-day suspended sentence handed to Cardinal Roberto Tucci, the former head of Vatican Radio's management board, by a lower court.