Four indicted in death of 'God's banker'
By MARIA SANMINIATELLI
Tuesday, April 19, 2005 Page A1
Associated Press, with a report from Reuters
ROME -- A Sicilian mobster, a Roman crime boss and two others were indicted yesterday in the death of Italian financier Roberto Calvi, a banker with close ties to the Vatican who was found hanging under a bridge in London in 1982, a defence lawyer for one of the four said.
Sardinian financier Flavio Carboni; his former girlfriend Manuela Kleinszig; Giuseppe (Pippo) Calo, a convicted Cosa Nostra treasurer; and Ernesto Diotallevi, a Roman crime boss, are to stand trial for murder in October, Mr. Carboni's lawyer said.
The development served as a reminder of a two-decade-old scandal even as Roman Catholic cardinals worked yesterday to elect a pope and usher in a new era.
Mr. Calvi, who had been the president of Banco Ambrosiano, was dubbed "God's banker" because of his ties with the Vatican's bank and its former top official, U.S. Archbishop Paul Marcinkus.
Italy sought to question Cardinal Marcinkus about the affair, but with the support of Pope John Paul, he left the Vatican in 1990 and retired in the United States. Mr. Calvi and Cardinal Marcinkus had a common friend, an Italian banker named Michele Sindona who was slain in prison in 1986, poisoned with a cup of cyanide-laced coffee.
Mr. Calvi's body was found under London's Blackfriars Bridge on June 18, 1982, his suit pockets stuffed with rocks and bricks, along with a falsified passport and thousands of dollars in various currencies.
His death coincided with the collapse of Banco Ambrosiano, in which the Vatican's bank held a significant stake. The collapse was Italy's biggest postwar banking scandal.
The bank fell apart after the disappearance of the equivalent of $1.6-billion. The Vatican's bank agreed to pay $312-million to the Italian bank's creditors, but denied any wrongdoing.
Renato Borzone, who is representing Mr. Carboni, rejected the allegations against his client, insisting that Mr. Calvi's death was a suicide as initially suspected.
"The defence maintains that, based on medical examinations, Calvi committed suicide and was not murdered," Mr. Borzone said. "There are elements favourable to the defence as well as the prosecution. There are things that have to be clarified."
Mr. Carboni, a friend of Mr. Calvi's and one of the last people known to have seen him alive, was the only defendant at yesterday's court hearing, Mr. Borzone said.
Mr. Calo made an appearance via a video link from prison, where he was being held on separate charges, and Ms. Kleinszig was believed to be in Austria. Mr. Diotallevi's role and whereabouts were not immediately known.
In the latest twist to the saga, prosecutors now say the Mafia killed Mr. Calvi for stealing from them and from Italian financier Licio Gelli. Mr. Gelli was the head of the P2 lodge -- a shadowy Masonic organization whose members once included prominent politicians, businessmen and military officers. Prosecutors were not available for comment yesterday.
"They allege that Carboni went to London with Calvi to deliver him to the people who murdered him," Mr. Borzone said. He said Ms. Kleinszig, an Austrian, apparently accompanied Mr. Carboni to London.
In July of 2003 Italian prosecutors issued a report concluding that Mr. Calvi did not commit suicide but was killed.
British police announced later that year that they had begun a homicide inquiry into the death after a detailed review, and in December, a 42-year-old woman was arrested on suspicion of conspiring to pervert the course of justice, and of perjury.
Mr. Calvi's son Carlo, who lives in Montreal, could not immediately be reached for comment last night.