Electricians arrested over Venice opera fire
Friday 23 May 1997
Magistrates yesterday ordered the arrest of two men, Massimiliano Marchetti and Enrico Carella, both working for a small family firm hired to rewire La Fenice as part of a major restoration programme.
According to judicial sources, the Carella company was at least two months behind schedule and risked incurring heavy fines from the city council. The prosecution believes the company preferred to destroy La Fenice altogether rather than risk its own livelihood.
Prosecutors have suspected arson for some time, although until recently they were speculating that the fire might have been the work of an organised crime group. A number of basic safety rules had been violated, and none of the opera house's fire alarms or sprinklers managed to work once the fire began raging.
Marchetti and Carella told magistrates that they had left the building at 8.30 on the night of the fire, but other witnesses saw them leaving half an hour later.
That missing half-hour was crucial to the sequence of events, but according to the two men's lawyers the discrepancy was far from concrete evidence of their clients' guilt.
"The prosecution's case is one big logical hypothesis, with nothing solid behind it," one lawyer told reporters.
Fires have a nasty habit of breaking out in prestigious buildings in Italy just as restoration work is reaching its conclusion. Last month, the chapel containing the Turin Shroud was ravaged by flames at the end of a two-year restoration programme.
In 1991 the Petruzzelli theatre in Bari, in southern Italy, met a similar fate - an affair now believed to have been inspired by intrigues in the local worlds of politics and organised crime.
- 1 Sabrina Corgatelli: US hunting tourist posts picture of herself with dead giraffe after Cecil the lion outrage
- 2 Katie Hopkins reveals fear she will die during brain surgery to cure epilepsy
- 3 Edward Heath 'child sex abuse' allegation: Investigation to be held into Wiltshire police handling of alleged claim in the 1990s
- 4 Dutch King Willem-Alexander declares the end of the welfare state
- 5 Tom Cruise: Reporters banned from asking actor about Scientology
Sabrina Corgatelli: US hunting tourist posts picture of herself with dead giraffe after Cecil the lion outrage
Katie Hopkins reveals fear she will die during brain surgery to cure epilepsy
'Gene drive': Scientists sound alarm over supercharged GM organisms which could spread in the wild and cause environmental disasters
Edward Heath 'child sex abuse' allegation: Investigation to be held into Wiltshire police handling of alleged claim in the 1990s
Dutch King Willem-Alexander declares the end of the welfare state
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn – or a return to a Labour government
Is Britain really full up? Are migrants taking our jobs? Leading academic answers the most common anti-immigration claims
Calais Migrant Crisis: Deputy Mayor of Calais labels Cameron's use of 'swarm' as 'racist' and 'ignorant'
Chris Leslie: Jeremy Corbyn's anti-austerity agenda will harm the poor, says Labour shadow Chancellor
While we fixate on Calais, the Home Office is quietly deporting dozens of migrants on 'ghost flights'
Landlords renting properties to illegal immigrants to face up to five years in prison
£20k plus sales linked bonus. : Guru Careers: We are seeking a Copywriter to j...
£17000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has bec...
Up to £26k DOE: Guru Careers: A Junior / Mid-Level 3D Creative Designer is nee...
£40000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You'll be joining a truly talen...