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Last Updated: Sunday, 3 July, 2005, 17:53 GMT 18:53 UK
Italian defends 'phoney police'
A man accused of setting up a parallel secret police force in Italy has spoken out from house arrest, saying the group was legal and its activity well-known.

The man has pledged to provide investigators with a full list of his employees, which he said numbered 150, Italian media reports say.

But the Genoa chief prosecutor says official police forces were unaware of the work carried out by the agency.

The structure was set up after the 2004 Madrid bombings to fight terrorism.

"The Department of Anti-terrorism Strategic Studies (DSSA) is a centre that monitories Islamist terrorism," daily newspaper La Repubblica quotes the organisation's alleged chief, Gaetano Saya, as saying.

"Anybody can join as an external consultant. Among them there are also top police officials."

Meanwhile, a third person has been arrested and senior police officers have been placed under investigation.

Three police officers who had allegedly used an interior ministry database to provide the DSSA with reserved information have been temporarily suspended from office.

The investigation that uncovered the alleged parallel structure is an offspring of a previous inquiry into the death of Fabrizio Quattrocchi, one of four Italians kidnapped in Iraq in April 2004 and later shot dead by his abductors.

Hostage's body arrives in Italy
24 May 04 |  Europe

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