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Calvi's body to be exhumed for new inquiry

THE BODY of Robert Calvi, the man known as God's Banker, will be exhumed in September in an attempt to establish whether he stuffed his own pockets with bricks before hanging himself beneath London's Blackfriars Bridge in 1982, or whether someone else did it for him.

The British coroner's report drawn up in that year "shows clearly that Mr Calvi hanged himself", lawyers representing Flavio Carboni - Mr Calvi's close confidante at the time of his death - told magistrates recently. But Mr Carboni, a Sardinian businessman with ties to the Rome underworld, was charged with organising Mr Calvi's murder, and investigators are loath to accept his version of events.

The Italian judges who ordered the exhumation of Mr Calvi's body have appointed pathologists to seek clues on Mr Calvi's physical state immediately prior to his death on 18 June, 1982. "Official reports do not concur on whether the hanged man was conscious at the time of his death," the exhumation order said.

Mr Calvi was the chairman of Banco Ambrosiano, then Italy's largest private bank, and had arrived in London just days before his death, after fleeing in great secrecy across Europe. The bank had crashed spectacularly with debts of over $1.2bn, concealed in a web of fraudulent operations.

Mr Calvi moved in powerful political circles in Italy, and, thanks to his Vatican connections, above all his services for its bank, the IOR, Mr Calvi earned himself the title God's Banker. He also diverted attention from money laundering operations for the Sicilian Mafia through front companies across Europe and Latin America.

For 15 years, the British coroner's open verdict on Mr Calvi left the mystery of his death unresolved. Then, last April, the case took a dramatic turn when Francesco Di Carlo, a Sicilian mafioso imprisoned in Britain for drug trafficking in 1987, turned state's evidence and told magistrates that he had been asked to "punish" the banker for squandering Mafia assets. He said he was told to act quickly, before Mr Calvi could be arrested and forced to reveal details of the Mafia's financial empire.

Mr Di Carlo denied having murdered Mr Calvi, and placed the blame on a Neapolitan mobster, Vincenzo Castillo, who was murdered in Rome in a car-bomb attack six months after Mr Calvi's death.