Remains of human discovered in Rome's Vatican Embassy by building workers, says Vatican
Human remains were found by builders working in the Vatican's Embassy in Rome, the Vatican said in a statement on Wednesday, prompting Italian authorities to launch a homicide probe related to the unresolved disappearance of a teenager in the 1980s.
The bone fragments were found under the basement of the Embassy to Italy during construction work, officials were cited as saying by Efe news.
"The Chief Prosecutor of Rome, Giuseppe Pignatone, has asked the police and forensic experts to try and determine the age and sex of the remains and the date of death," a Vatican statement said.
No further statements in relation to the findings were made.
However, the Italian media have taken a keen interest in the investigation and have suggested the remains may bear some relation to the disappearance of 15-year-old girl Emanuela Orlandi, the daughter of a Vatican employee, who vanished June 22, 1983.
Vatican spokesperson Greg Burke said that it would be important to establish the sex, age and time-frame of when the corpse was buried before reaching any conclusions.
The Italian media have long speculated on Orlandi's disappearance, which has also been linked to organized crime and an attempt to force the release from prison of Mehmet Ali Agca, the Turkish man who tried to assassinate Pope John Paul II in 1981.
It is not the first time that the discovery of human remains has renewed public interest in the Orlandi case.
A similar reaction followed the 2012 discovery of human remains in the tomb of well-known mafioso Enrico Pedis.
The investigation of the girl's disappearance led to Pedis, head of the mafia cell "Banda de la Magliana" after his girlfriend said she had put Orlandi in a car and taken her away under Pedis' orders.
Amid myriad hypotheses as to what exactly happened to the 15-year-old, her family remain hopeful that Wednesday's findings may shed light on the case.
(With inputs from agencies.)