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Tuesday, 19 February, 2002, 14:07 GMT
Vatican Radio out of the dock
Vatican Radio studio
The papal station does not fall under Italian jurisdiction
A court in Rome has dismissed a case against three officials from Vatican Radio whom Italian prosecutors said were risking lives by violating restrictions on electromagnetic emissions.

Judge Andrea Calabria ruled that Italy had no jurisdiction over the three, citing a 1929 treaty between the Holy See and Italy which enshrined the Vatican as independent city state.

Vatican antenna
Vatican antennae have been blamed for cancer cases
Residents in the Rome suburb of Santa Maria di Galeria, where the transmission centre is located, have alleged that excessive electromagnetic levels have caused an unusually high number of cases of leukaemia in the area.

Those locals who were present in court responded to the verdict with dismay. "All are not equal before the law," they shouted, according to the Italian news agency ANSA.

Papal exemption

Among the three Vatican officials on trial was a recently elevated cardinal, Roberto Tucci, an aide who has helped prepare many papal trips abroad.

The other defendants were Reverend Pasquale Borgomeo, the radio station's director-general, and Constantino Pacifici, an engineer.

Vatican Radio said it was pleased with the outcome of the case, but insisted that it would continue to guard against health risks posed by its transmissions, which are broadcast around the world in around 40 languages.

Last year, the then Italian Environment Minister, Willer Bordon, threatened to cut off electricity supplies to the radio service if it failed to reduce its emissions. He noted that levels has been measured at three times the Italian legal limit for electromagnetic radiation during an evening broadcast.

He was, however, overruled by former Prime Minister Giuliano Amato. It was believed he feared such an action could seriously divide his cabinet.

People living near the transmitters have frequently taken to the streets in protest at the emissions.

When the 440-hectare (960-acre) site was opened in 1951, the area was sparsely populated, but now about 100,000 people live in the vicinity.

See also:

11 Apr 01 | Europe
Italy renews Vatican Radio threat
09 Apr 01 | Europe
Vatican radio bows to pressure
15 Jan 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Vatican
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