Radio transmitters operated by the Vatican are under official investigation over claims that electromagnetic pollution is causing cancer among local residents.
   Vatican Radio programs are broadcast all over the world from a forest of antennae at Santa Maria di Galera, near Cesano, a northern suburb of Rome. Residents have reported the complex to magistrates dozens of times and doctors who examined the cause of 7500 deaths over six years in Cesano found the incidence of tumours was 30 per cent higher than the national average. A separate inquiry by the Lazio region found that electromagnetic energy in the area was almost three times the legal limit.
   Francesco Ferrante, the director general of Italy's Legambiente, or environmental league, claimed that 60 per cent of deaths in the area in 1996 were due to cancer.
   Lawyers acting for the Vatican, including Eugenio Pacelli, a nephew of Pope Pius XII, pointed out that, under the Lateran Pact those who exercise Vatican activities are not punishable under Italian law. A 1951 accord also recognises the extra-territoriality of the complex. The lawyers added that there was no legal precedent recognising any damaging effect to health of electromagnetic waves.
   However, a local councillor insisted: "The privilege of extra-territoriality is not valid. The constitutional right to people's health has to be respected." Magistrates have now asked Italy's Foreign Ministry to intervene to prevent diplomatic deadlock over the case.


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