Roberto Calvi, the Italian banker whose apparent suicide under London's Blackfriars Bridge was officially redefined by Roman prosecutors last week as murder, was ferried to his place of execution alive and conscious, according to evidence given to the prosecutors.
The death of Mr Calvi in June 1982, shortly after the bank of which he was president, Banco Ambrosiano, collapsed with debts of $1,300m (£800m), has ever since excited the attention of experts on the Mafia, the Vatican and Italian freemasonry - the three bodies involved in Banco Ambrosiano that had most to lose from its collapse.
The first autopsy, carried out in London, concluded that Mr Calvi killed himself, an opinion strongly resisted by his family. Last week Roman prosecutors sent notices to four people whom they believe were involved in the murder, including a Mafia boss serving life in prison for other crimes, and a close business associate of Mr Calvi's.
The legal representative of at least one of the four has already denied wrongdoing. But according to the Italian weekly magazine L'Espresso, the prosecutors in Rome were also given a new version of Mr Calvi's last hours.
According to Professors Fabrizio Iecher and Paolo Procaccianti, who testified to the Roman prosecutors, Mr Calvi was one of three men aboard a small boat motoring along the Thames on the night of 18 June 1982. How the fugitive banker was induced to get into the boat is a detail that is not explained, nor why he had $15,000 (£9,300) cash about his person.
Under Blackfriars Bridge the boat slowed and the man in the bow threw a rope over a scaffolding bar fixed under the bridge. It appeared he was merely making the boat fast but then he wrapped the rope around Mr Calvi's neck, tightening it steadily and tying it securely. The man at the helm put the motor in gear and the boat sped off, the sudden jolt effecting the coup de grâce.
Professors Iecher and Procaccianti were led to this conclusion by the fact that no sedatives were found in Mr Calvi's bloodstream.
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