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Last Updated: Wednesday, 8 October, 2003, 15:25 GMT 16:25 UK
Trevi coins row re-surfaces
Previous suspect Roberto Cercelletta being removed from the fountain
Fountain funds have been removed for decades
A court in Rome has cleared a woman of stealing coins tossed for luck into one of the city's most famous tourist spots, the Trevi Fountain.

The 52-year-old former dancer, Nadia Agrisani, used an improvised fishing pole to recover the coins.

The judge ruled that the money had been discarded and had no rightful owner.

Last year, the authorities arrested a man nicknamed D'Artagnan, who was reported to have taken up to 1,000 euros a day from the fountain.

The city has not welcomed the decision, as the coins are normally collected by the Catholic charity Caritas to help Aids patients.

However, spokesman Fabrizio d'Andrea acknowledged that such methods for getting coins were not "technically" against the law.

Protest

People started throwing coins into the 18th-Century fountain in the belief that this would ensure they revisited Rome.

Last year, police installed closed-circuit TV cameras and motion sensors beside the fountain and warned that anyone who entered would be arrested.

D'Artagnan, whose real name is Roberto Cercelletta, raided the fountain for 34 years before he was discovered.

He protested against the ban by slashing his belly.

He later threatened to cut himself again if anyone tried to stop him getting money from the fountain.

Shortly afterwards, two copythieves were arrested after netting 200 euros in the fountain.


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