Italian court sentences man to life for school bombing | News | DW | 18.06.2013
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Italian court sentences man to life for school bombing

A court in Italy has sentenced a man to life in prison for the murder of a student, who died when a homemade bomb exploded outside her school. The attack was met with shock across the country.

Giovanni Vantaggiato, aged 69, was sentenced to life in jail on Tuesday for the murder of 16-year-old Melissa Bassi.

The homemade bomb created by Vantaggiato contained three gas canisters and was placed in a rubbish container, detonating as children entered the school on May 19, 2012. Bassi died having sustained fatal wounds, with five other students of the same age seriously injured.

Vantaggiato, who has been in very poor health, was not present for the hearing in the southern city of Brindisi. He previously admitted to building and planting the device, having tested the detonator on the night before the attack.

'Financial problems'

In his submission to the court in May, prosecutor Cataldo Motta accused Vantaggiato of "wanting to kill" and of aiming to "intimidate his country." He said the discovery of more explosive devices after the school bombing had proved Vantaggiato was planning more attacks.

The court heard that Vantaggiato, the owner of a fuel depot, had told investigators he was having financial problems after being cheated out of 400,000 euros ($534,000). A number of his clients - the school among them - had cancelled their contracts with him.

The attack - the first of its kind against a school in Italy - caused shock across the country, sparking comparison with bombings carried out by the left-wing Red Brigades in the 1970s. Suspicions also arose at the time about an organized crime link, because the school was named after Francesca Morvillo, the wife of anti-mafia judge Giovanni Falcone. No such link was ever established.

rc/slk (AFP, AP, Reuters)