Four Indicted in Death of 'God's Banker'

Four people were indicted Monday on murder charges in the death of Italian financier Roberto Calvi (search), a banker with close ties to the Vatican who was found hanging under a bridge in London in 1982, a defense attorney said.

Businessman Flavio Carboni (search); his ex-girlfriend Manuela Kleinszig, a man with alleged ties to the Mafia, Giuseppe "Pippo" Calo, and businessman Ernesto Diotallevi, are to stand trial in October, according to Carboni's lawyer, who rejected the allegations against his client.

Calvi, who had been the president of Banco Ambrosiano (search), was dubbed "God's banker" because of his ties with the Vatican's bank and its former top official, the American Archbishop Paul C. Marcinkus.

Calvi's body was found under London's Blackfriars Bridge on June 18, 1982, his suit pockets stuffed with rocks and bricks, along with a falsified passport and thousands of dollars worth of various currencies.

His death came amid the collapse of Banco Ambrosiano, in which the Vatican's bank held a significant stake. The collapse was Italy's biggest postwar banking scandal.

Renato Borzone, who is representing Carboni, rejected the allegations, saying Calvi's death was a suicide as initially suspected.

"The defense maintains that — based on medical examinations — Calvi committed suicide and was not murdered," Borzone said. "There are elements favorable to the defense as well as the prosecution. There are things that have to be clarified."

Carboni — who was a friend of Calvi's and one of the last people known to have seen to the banker alive — was the only defendant at Monday's court hearing, Borzone said.

Calo made an appearance via a video link from prison, where he was being held on separate charges, and Kleinszig was believed to be in Austria. Diotallevi's role and whereabouts were not immediately known.

Prosecutors say Calvi was laundering money and that Calo ordered his murder, according to the defense lawyer. Prosecutors were not available for comment Monday.

"They allege that Carboni went to London with Calvi to deliver him to the people who murdered him," Borzone said. He said Kleinszig, an Austrian, apparently accompanied Carboni to London.

Banco Ambrosiano fell apart after the disappearance of $1.3 billion. The Vatican's bank agreed to pay $250 million to the Italian bank's creditors, but denied any wrongdoing. Marcinkus also denied wrongdoing.

In July 2003, Italian prosecutors issued a report concluding that Calvi did not commit suicide, but was killed.

British police announced in 2003 that they had begun a murder inquiry into Calvi's death after a detailed review of the case.

In December 2003, a 42-year-old woman was arrested on suspicion of conspiring to pervert the course of justice, and of perjury.