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Da Vinci Code 'trial' begins

 A mock trial of the Da Vinci Code has started at the Palazzina Uzielli in Vinci, near Florence.

Historians, art experts, clergy and a representative from Opus Dei are among those who will be examining the novel in detail.

Author Dan Brown claims in his introduction to the book that: "All of the art, architecture, secret rituals, secret societies, all of that is historical fact."

But many experts have dismissed Brown's version of events; his central claim that Jesus had a child with Mary Magdalene and the Holy Grail is their bloodline.

Alessandro Vezzosi, director of the Museo Ideale Leonardo Da Vinci , told reporters before the start of the trial on Friday: "Leonardo is misrepresented and belittled. His importance is misunderstood, he was a man full of fantasy, inventions and genius."

Vezzosi said he will bring documents and photographs to the trial to prove that many of the claims about the legendary artist are false.

Msgr Renato Bellini, a priest from Vinci, said the book gave an inaccurate view of Opus Dei. "This book depicts the movement as a mysterious centre of political and economic power that tries to hide the historical truth on Jesus and Magdalene, which is absurd," he said.

Ten books have now been published to debunk claims made in the Da Vinci Code.

First posted VINCI - 21 February 2005 - 228 words