Police to open Vatican graves in murder investigation

Two graves in a small Vatican cemetery will be opened in a renewed search for Emanuela Orlandi, a young woman who disappeared in Rome 36 years ago.

Orlandi was a Vatican City resident and the daughter of a Vatican employee. She disappeared in Rome on 22 June 1983 when she was 15.

In March this year the Orlandi family’s lawyer Laura Sgro said the family had been sent an anonymous letter with a photo of an angel in the Vatican’s Teutonic Cemetery.

Quoting an extract from the letter, Sgro said, “Look where the angel is pointing”.

At that time, Sgro also said there was evidence that at least one of the tombs below the angel statue had been opened at some point.

Furthermore, she claimed the angel statue is a different age from the marble on top of the graves and noted someone continues to leave flowers there.

As a result of the letter, she filed a formal petition with the Vatican to investigate its claims and to consider the possibility of opening the graves the angel is pointing at.

Alessandro Gisotti, interim director of the Vatican Press Office, says the tombs will be opened by police on 11 July.

He says the Orlandi family and family members of the people buried in the graves will be present when the graves are opened.

While they are opened, the contents in the graves will be inventoried and catalogued. Tests will also be conducted on the age of the remains and their DNA.

Gisotti says the decision to open the graves followed a court review of past investigations into Orlandi’s disappearance.

Gisotti says in the current investigation, the Vatican court and police are focusing specifically on the possibility that she was buried in the Vatican.

“I’m glad, finally a decision has been made in our favour,” says Pietro Orlandi, Emanuela Orlandi’s brother.

“I thank the Vatican for the attention and willingness to bring clarity.”

The Vatican has no jurisdiction to investigate the case of Orlandi’s disappearance since it happened in Italy, not in Vatican territory.

The management and investigation of her case therefore falls under the jurisdiction of Italian authorities.



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