updated 4/18/2005 10:02:24 PM ET 2005-04-19T02:02:24

Four people were ordered Monday to stand trial in the death of an Italian financier with close ties to the Vatican, who was found hanging 23 years ago from a London bridge, his pockets stuffed with rocks and bank notes.

Roberto Calvi, who had been the president of Banco Ambrosiano, had been dubbed “God’s banker” because of his ties with the Vatican’s bank and its former top official, the American Archbishop Paul C. Marcinkus.

Calvi’s body was found under London’s Blackfriars Bridge on June 18, 1982, his suit pockets stuffed with 11 pounds of rocks and bricks, along with a falsified passport and thousands of dollars worth of various currencies.

His death came amid Banco Ambrosiano’s collapse following the disappearance of $1.3 billion in Italy’s biggest postwar banking scandal. The Vatican held a significant stake in the bank.

Indicted Monday were businessman Flavio Carboni; his ex-girlfriend Manuela Kleinszig; a man with alleged ties to the Mafia, Giuseppe “Pippo” Calo; and businessman Ernesto Diotallevi.

Carboni’s lawyer, Renato Borzone, rejected the allegations against his client.

“They allege that Carboni went to London with Calvi to deliver him to the people who murdered him, and that Kleinszig accompanied Carboni to London,” Borzone said.

Prosecutors say Calvi was laundering money for the Mafia, and that Calo ordered his murder because Mafia bosses were afraid Calvi would talk, Borzone said. Prosecutors were not immediately available for comment.

Borzone, however, said Calvi was devastated by the bank’s collapse and his death was a suicide, as initially suspected.

In July 2003, Italian prosecutors issued a report concluding that Calvi did not commit suicide, but was killed. British police announced that year they had begun a murder inquiry after reviewing the case.

Carboni — a friend of Calvi’s and one of the last people known to have seen the banker alive — was the only defendant at Monday’s court hearing, Borzone said. The lawyer said all four were ordered to stand trial in October.

The 73-year-old Calo, jailed since the 1980s on Mafia charges appeared by video link from a prison in central Italy. Kleinszig was believed to be in Austria, and Diotallevi’s whereabouts were not immediately known.

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