Priests jailed in cemetery scandal

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TURIN (Reuter) - Eleven grave diggers and two priests from what has been dubbed Italy's most corrupt cemetery were jailed yesterday for their part in a bribery and corpse-robbing scandal.

Fathers Guiseppe and Rosario Ormando were found guilty of demanding money from families wanting chapel services for deceased relatives, and each sentenced to 32 months in prison.

While the Ormando brothers plied their lucrative trade as chaplains at the central municipal cemetery in Turin, their gravedigger colleagues ensured that the deceased were not burdened with earthly goods.

Eleven of them were sentenced to terms of between 18 months and two years for stealing jewellery and gold teeth from exhumed corpses and demanding kickbacks from undertakers.

Seven more cemetery staff have already pleaded guilty to similar offences in return for lighter sentences, and a further 10 are due to stand trial in October.

Investigators allege the workers stole rings, jewels and gold teeth while moving bodies from graves to above-ground crypts. Such transfers are normal 10 to 15 years after burial in Italy because of limited space at cemeteries.

The grisly activities have shocked even the most jaundiced Italians weary of graft scandals.