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Thug's grave may hold kidnap clues

The body of a mobster has been exhumed in Rome as part of an investigation into the mystery disappearance of the teenage daughter of a Vatican worker almost 30 years ago.

Emanuela Orlandi was 15 when she vanished in 1983 after leaving her family's Vatican City apartment to go to a music lesson in Rome. Her father was a lay employee of the Holy See.

There had initially been speculation that her kidnapping was linked in some way to the assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II, which had occurred two years earlier, and the jailing of the gunman, Ali Agca.

The exhumation of Enrico De Pedis, a member of Rome's Magliana mob killed in 1990, came after his former girlfriend said he kidnapped Emanuela, and an anonymous caller in 2005 told a television show that the answer to her disappearance lay in his tomb.

Amid a new push to resolve the case, the Vatican said last month it had no objections to opening the tomb.

Some doubt if the Vatican had co-operated fully with the investigation. In a lengthy statement last month, the Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi insisted the Holy See had done everything possible to try to resolve the case.

Outside the basilica, Emanuela's brother Pietro Orlandi said the move to exhume the tomb was a step forward in the investigation.

"I think it's something very positive, both from the point of view of the Vatican and the prosecutors," he said.

Questions have been asked over the location of De Pedis' tomb, in a prominent church alongside prominent Catholics - an unusual final resting place for a local mobster. Sant'Apollinare church is next to the elegant Piazza Navona in Rome's historic centre and is adjacent to the Opus Dei-run Pontifical Holy Cross University.

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