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Sunday, 1 April, 2001, 21:01 GMT 22:01 UK
Arrests after banker's body found
Policeman leads suspect Franco Rapelli to jail
Police said a gang of amateurs had stolen the coffin
Police in northern Italy have arrested two men suspected of body snatching after recovering the body of legendary Italian banker Enrico Cuccia.

The body stolen more than two weeks ago was found on Saturday hidden under a pile of hay in a barn in a mountainous area about 30km (18 miles) west of Turin.

Recovered coffin of Enrico Cuccia
Coffin was found in a remote barn
''It's clear we are dealing with a bunch of local amateurs and not an organised crime network as we first surmised,'' a Turin police official said.

Police said a ransom letter had been delivered to Mr Cuccia's family demanding nearly $3.5m to return the coffin.

The authorities said they were searching for other possible accomplices.

The authorities were at first perplexed by the crime, saying there might be a political motive.

The body was taken from the family mausoleum near Meina, beside Lake Maggiore. He died last June aged 92.

Phone call

Mr Cuccia, who founded Mediobanca in 1946, was one of Italy's wealthiest and most influential men, seen as a pivotal figure in rebuilding Italy's economy after World War II.

He died last June aged 92.

Police arrested the first suspect, Giampaolo Pesce, after he made a call to Mediobanca in Milan from a public phone.

He then led police to the barn where the coffin was hidden a few kilometres away from his home.

A second suspect, Franco Rapelli, a truck driver, was detained later Sunday.

Police say it would have taken at least four people to smash open the 100kg marble tomb and remove the coffin.

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