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  • A group of citizens demonstrating in 2013 for the Vatican to resume the search for Emanuela Orlandi.

    A group of citizens demonstrating in 2013 for the Vatican to resume the search for Emanuela Orlandi. | Photo: Reuters

Published 1 November 2018

The remains could shed light on the infamous 1983 disappearances of Emanuela Orlandi or Mirella Gregori, both aged 15, and went missing in Rome 40 days apart.

Human remains found during construction work at the Vatican's embassy to Italy near Villa Borghese museum could hold clues to a 35-year-old mysterious disappearance of a young girl according to various media reports.

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The bones, discovered at a property owned by the Vatican, were discovered Monday. A statement by the Holy See Tuesday said, "During restoration works in a space annexed to the Apostolic Nunciature of Italy ... fragments of human bone were found.”

An investigation is underway to determine the age and sex of the remains. Chief prosecutor Giuseppe Pignatone was leading the investigation and had tasked forensic specialists with determining the “age, sex and date of death” of the body.

The remains could shed light on the infamous 1983 disappearances of Emanuela Orlandi or Mirella Gregori, both aged 15 and went missing in Rome, 40 days apart. Detectives will be looking whether the remains are DNA match for the teenagers.

Italian news outlet The Local reported that Orlandi was the daughter of a member of Vatican police, and last seen on Jun. 22, 1983, when she left a music class. Gregori never returned after she answered the intercom at the family apartment and went down to speak to a school friend.

According to investigative authorities, both cases might be connected even though they did not have any contact with each other.

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Various theories have circulated regarding Orlandi’s disappearance. According to one such theory, she was kidnapped by an organized crime gang to put pressure on Vatican officials to recover a loan.

Another theory suggests that she was taken to pressure the release of Mehmet Ali Agca, a Turk who attempted to assassinate Pope Jean Paul II in 1981 and was then serving a life sentence in an Italian jail.

In 2005, an anonymous caller to a television talk show said the secret to her kidnapping was buried along with Enrico “Renatino” De Pedis, a mobster who once led the feared Magliana gang which terrorized Rome in the 1980s.

Police eventually opened his tomb in a Rome basilica in 2012 looking for clues but came up empty-handed.

The Orlandi family’s lawyer had said that they are pressuring the Vatican for more details about the human bones. Her brother Pietro had been campaigning for decades to find out the truth and accused the Vatican of remaining silent about the case whilst the Vatican maintained that it had cooperated with the police.

Last year, an Italian investigative journalist, Emiliano Fittipaldi published a five-page document that had been stolen from a locked Vatican cabinet which suggested the Vatican’s direct link to Orlandi’s disappearance. Written by a cardinal, the document listed supposed expenses for Orlandi’s upkeep post-disappearance. The Vatican reacted saying that the document was fake.

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