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Vatican to open tombs in connection with decades-old cold case

.- Authorities will open two tombs in a cemetery on Vatican property Thursday in order to perform testing in connection with the unsolved disappearance of Emanuela Orlandi in June 1983.

Orlandi was the daughter of an envoy of the Prefecture of the Pontifical House and a citizen of Vatican City State. Her disappearance has been the subject of international intrigue, including suspicion about the Vatican’s role, since it occurred. After multiple investigations, Orlandi’s case was closed in 2016.

The exhumation of the tombs in the cemetery of the Teutonic College, located on Vatican extra-territorial property adjacent to Vatican City State, was authorized after a request by Orlandi’s family.

According to Italian newspaper Il Messaggero, the mother and brother of Orlandi requested the tombs be opened after receiving an anonymous message claiming the graves near a large statue of a pointing angel could contain clues to the 15-year-old girl’s disappearance.

Interim director of the Holy See press office, Alessandro Gisotti, stated last week the exhumation will take place July 11 in the presence of the case’s lawyers and Orlandi’s relatives and the relatives of the people buried in the graves concerned.

The opening of the tombs will be overseen by a forensic anthropologist and by the Vatican gendarmerie. Gisotti said that as the Vatican has no jurisdiction over the investigation of Orlandi’s case, the exhumation and forensic and DNA testing will be performed only in order to determine if Orlandi’s body was buried on Vatican property.

Speculation about Orlandi’s disappearance reignited last October when human bone fragments were discovered during the renovation of a building connected to the Holy See’s nunciature in Rome, though DNA testing found the remains to be from a male who died sometime between the 1st and 3rd centuries.

The tombs to be opened are those of Princess Sophie von Hohenlohe, who died in 1836, and Princess Carlotta Federica of Mecklenburg, who died in 1840.

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