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Rome prosecutors open new probe into 'Vatican Girl' case

Rome investigation follows new probe by Vatican.

Rome prosecutors have opened a new investigation into the case of Emanuela Orlandi who disappeared aged 15 on her way home to Vatican City after a music lesson on 22 June 1983.

The fresh probe comes after Vatican authorities reportedly supplied Rome prosecutors with documents relating to the 40-year-old case in a new collaboration between the Holy See and the Italian capital.

The Vatican in January reopened an investigation into the unsolved mystery that inspired a recent Netflix documentary series - Vatican Girl - which purported to shed fresh light on Orlandi's disappearance four decades ago.

Controversy

Orlandi's brother Pietro sparked controversy last month after he gave Vatican prosecutors a recording of an alleged conversation between a journalist and the boss of a Rome criminal gang suspected of being involved in Emanuela's disappearance.

The voice of the alleged mobster insinuated that Pope John Paul II - the late Karol Wojtyła who was declared a saint in 2014 - was implicated in the molestation of teenage girls by Vatican officials.

After airing the audiotape to Vatican prosecutors, Orlandi appeared on Italian television and claimed: "They tell me Wojtyła used to go out in the evenings with two Polish monsignors and it certainly was not to bless houses".

Orlandi's remarks were slammed by Pope Francis as "offensive and unfounded insinuations” while an editorial in Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano labelled them “absurd and defamatory allegations”.

Conspiracy theories

Over the decades Orlandi's disappearance has sparked conspiracy theories ranging from kidnap by a terrorist group demanding the release of Mehmet Ali Ağca, who shot Pope John Paul II in St Peter's Square in 1981, to a financial scandal involving the Vatican Bank and the Banda della Magliana criminal gang.

One theory was that Orlandi was buried alongside Roman gangster Enrico De Pedis in the Basilica di S. Apollinare near Piazza Navona. However when his tomb was opened in 2012 there were no clues found.

Other false leads saw the Vatican reopen tombs in the Teutonic Cemetery, beside St Peter's, following an anonymous tip-off received by the family of the missing girl in 2019.

However the tombs were found to be empty, adding further mystery to a case that has captivated Italy for four decades.

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Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia