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Last Updated: Monday, 14 July, 2003, 14:06 GMT 15:06 UK
La Fenice arson ruling stands

By David Willey
BBC correspondent in Rome

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.

La Fenice fire
Restoration of the building has been very slow
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.

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.

Temporary tent

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.

Historic Venice theatre reopens
24 May 01  |  Entertainment
La Fenice's troubled history
30 Mar 01  |  Entertainment
Venice opera house restoration halted
23 Mar 01  |  Entertainment

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