Vatican Radio found guilty of polluting the airwaves

 Cardinal Roberto Tucci and Father Pasquale Borgomeo who head Vatican Radio, received ten-day suspended jail sentence on Wednesday, for polluting the atmosphere with powerful electromagnetic waves. An Italian court also ordered them to pay damages and court costs. Two scientific studies suggest a field of Vatican Radio broadcasting antennas north of Rome may have caused high rates of cancer in the area. The first, in 2001, found that magnetic fields around the transmitters were much higher than normal limits allow. The giant masts beam programmes worldwide in 40 languages. A first trial was stopped in 2002 when a judge ruled that Italy had no jurisdiction over the station because it was part of Vatican City, an independent sovereign state. That decision was later overturned and Cardinal Tucci, the station's president, and Rev Borgomeo, its director general, went back on trial. Environmentalists and local community groups have welcomed the verdict. Some residents complained the transmissions were so strong they could hear radio broadcasts through their domestic lamps. But programme director Rev Federico Lombardi said he was shocked by the court's decision as he understood the emissions had been in line with accords between Italy and the Vatican. The level of damages payable by the defendants will be set by a civil arbitration body and could run into many millions of euros. Vatican Radio plans to appeal.

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