Vatican Radio Case Thrown Out by Roman Court

Says Italy Has No Jurisdiction

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ROME, FEB. 19, 2002 (Zenit.org).- A Roman Court judge threw out a case against Vatican Radio directors accused of polluting the air with electromagnetic waves from transmission towers, saying that Italy has no jurisdiction over them.



Judge Andrea Calabria, of the First Section of the Criminal Court of Rome, said the three directors have immunity under the 1929 Lateran Pact between the Holy See and Italy that established the Vatican as an independent city-state.

The accused were Cardinal Roberto Tucci, president of the Vatican Radio administrative council; Jesuit Father Pasquale Borgomeo, program director; and Costantino Pacifici, technical director.

A Citizens´ Committee of Cesano, supported by the Green Party, presented the accusation in court, citing the waves emitted by 28 Vatican Radio antennas in the center of Santa Maria di Galeria, about 30 kilometers (18 miles) from Rome.

In early 2001, the committee claimed that the waves caused leukemia. A study carried out by the Latium Region (to which Rome belongs) showed, however, that there were even fewer cases of leukemia in the area than in the rest of the province.

When the accusation was made, Father Federico Lombardi, a Vatican Radio program director, denounced speculative interests in the area by groups desiring to dismantle the Vatican land in Santa Maria di Galeria.

The transmission center was built before the vast majority of neighboring houses were constructed. A railroad line activated for the Jubilee Year 2000 connected the town with the center of Rome -- and awakened the interest of real estate agencies.

The broadcasting center has respected European norms on electromagnetic emission. In four places it exceeded the strict limit established in a recent Italian law pushed by the Greens.

To avoid a dispute, Italy and the Vatican reached an agreement last May: Vatican Radio was to transfer abroad (specifically, to the Principality of Monaco) the transmission of some of its international programs.

"The opportune conclusion of the criminal cause in no way means that Vatican Radio will cease to adopt the precautionary measures geared to responding to the population´s concern," Father Lombardi said today over Vatican Radio.

He added: "Once the unjust and unfounded accusations are clarified, Vatican Radio hopes to continue its activity in peace, in the context of a responsible and correct relation with the Italian authorities and the neighboring population, pacified thanks to the absence of health risks."

The Green Party´s Willer Bordon, Minister of the Environment in the previous center-left Italian government, went so far as to threaten the Vatican with cutting off the electricity supply to its broadcasting station.

The Cesano committee said it would appeal today´s court ruling.