Italy school bombing suspect goes on trial

Italian forensic policeman arrive at the house of Giovanni Vantaggiato in Copertino, 50 km south from Brindisi, on June 7 2012. (AFP PHOTO / CONTROLUCE)

BRINDISI, Italy: The trial of a man charged with carrying out an Italian school bombing that killed a teenage girl and wounded five others opened on Thursday.

Giovanni Vantaggiato, husband and father of two, is accused of murder and attempting to commit a massacre by exploding the bomb on May 19 as pupils were entering the school in the southern Italian city of Brindisi.

Vantaggiato, 69, who has lost a lot of weight during his detention and is in very poor health, insisted on being present at the hearing.

The blast, caused by a bomb made from three gas canisters, killed 16-year-old Melissa Bassi and wounded five other students, who suffered burns and other injuries.

Bassi's parents and several of the other students who were wounded were present in court.

"I couldn't sleep last night. I want to look him in the eye," said Azzurra Camarda, one of the victims, as she entered the court.

Vantaggiato, who owns a fuel depot, told investigators he was having financial difficulties after being swindled out of 400,000 euros ($534,000), and several of his clients -- including the school -- had cancelled their contracts with him.

He admitted to having made the bomb and tested the detonator the night before the attack, before installing the device in front of the Brindisi school and setting it off the next morning.

The attack -- the first against a school in Italy -- shocked the nation, sparking comparisons with the terrorist bombings in the 1970s.





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