A medical expert in Italy has claimed that radio masts operated by the Vatican's radio station are causing cancer in children.
Professor Andrea Micheli, from Milan's National Tumour Institute, focused on 19 child deaths from leukaemia or lymphoma between 1980 and 2003 in the Cesano area, north of Rome.
Micheli, a professor of cancer epidemiology, wrote a 300-page report, which has resulted in the Rome court investigating six officials of the station for manslaughter.
"The study suggests there was an important, coherent and significant link between residential exposure to the Vatican Radio structures and an excess risk of death from leukaemia and lymphoma in the children," the Independent quoted him as saying.
He said the raised cancer risk occurred in children under 14 who lived less than 7.5 miles from the masts.
He also found evidence of a link between the radiation and adult cancers - but only among those who lived much closer to the antennae.
His investigation was ordered by the court five years ago after concerns were raised about an increased incidence of cancer in the area.
As a result of Prof Micheli's evidence, six officials of Vatican Radio have been placed under investigation for manslaughter, by investigating magistrate Stefano Pesci.
The Vatican was quick to point out that the Italian Navy also operated radio masts in the area.
La Repubblica reported, however, that the leaked court report singled out the Vatican Radio masts as the likely cause.
"It is due to exposure to the antennae of Vatican Radio and not that of the navy," it had stated.
Father Federico Lombardi, the director general of Vatican Radio, said it had followed all regulations in setting up the masts, and also expressed concern that the report was leaked ahead of its official publication.