Italy's highest appeals court has upheld stiff prison sentences imposed on two men held responsible for the fire which destroyed La Fenice, Venice's prestigious opera house, more than seven years ago.
Electricians Massimiliano Marchetti and Enrico Carella had been given prison sentences of six and seven years respectively.
The electricians were sub-contractors for the restoration of the 200-year-old Venice opera house, which went up in flames in January 1996.
La Fenice was closed at the time of the fire.
Restoration of the building has been very slow
A court last year decided that the two electricians had negligently laid electric cables, which short-circuited, and the two were found guilty of arson.
A number of high-ranking city officials, and the director of the opera house, were acquitted by the same court on charges of negligence.
Although the mayor of Venice at the time of the fire promised that La Fenice would be rebuilt exactly as it was, reconstruction work has been repeatedly delayed by disputes over the awarding of contracts.
Opera performances have been held in a temporary tented theatre for the past seven years.
The reopening concert at La Fenice has now been rescheduled for December 2003, with Ricardo Muti as conductor.
But regular opera performances won't be given before next year, after extensive tests on the acoustics, stage machinery and fire-proofing of the new building.