Page last updated at 16:48 GMT, Friday, 20 November 2009

Mussolini's 'brain and blood for sale on internet'

Benito Mussolini
Mussolini's body was hung from a public square in the centre of Milan

The granddaughter of Italy's fascist dictator Benito Mussolini has said that blood and parts of his brain have been stolen to sell on the internet.

Alessandra Mussolini, a former showgirl turned MP, said she immediately informed the police when she found out.

The listing, on auction site Ebay, reportedly showed images of a wooden container and ampoules of blood.

Ebay, which does not allow the sale of human matter on its site, said that the listing was removed within hours.

The initial price requested for the material was 15,000 euros ($22,000; £13,000).

"This is very serious, these are the kinds of things we have to guard against," said Ms Mussolini, who was attending a seminar on internet crime when the listing was discovered.

Doctors' denial

The BBC's Mark Duff, in Milan, says that Alessandra Mussolini is a colourful character in her own right who has remained doggedly faithful to her grandfather's political legacy.

Ms Mussolini said that the remains were stolen from Milan's Policlinico hospital.

After Benito Mussolini was killed in 1945 his body was put on public display in a Milan square. It was then taken to the hospital for an autopsy.

However, doctors at the hospital denied any remains of the former Italian leader were kept at the premises, saying they were destroyed in the years that followed.

A spokesperson for Ebay said that the listing violated its own regulations and was promptly taken down.

"It was removed before 11am, a few hours after it was put online and before anyone had made any bids," said spokesperson Irina Pavlova.

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