(ANSA) - Naples, May 24 - Police on Thursday arrested five
suspects, including a prestigious library director, linked to
hundreds of stolen antique books and manuscripts from one of
Italy's oldest collections.
Marino Massimo De Caro, the director of the Girolamini
Library, was among those in custody, as well as suspects from
Argentina and Ukraine, police said.
In April De Caro took a leave of absence from the position
after reportedly notifying police himself of the theft from the
library, known for a vast collection of writings on theology and
The library was subsequently impounded and temporarily
placed under the auspices of the director of the Vittorio
Emanuele III National Museum in Naples.
Investigators have asked for international help in locating
the 257 missing volumes, which may turn up on the black market.
First opened in 1586, the Girolamini Library contains
roughly 160,000 volumes, 5,000 of which date back to the 16th
Naples prosecutor Giovanni Melillo called the collection
"seriously and perhaps irreparably dismembered and mutilated"
after the theft.
Among various warrants in the investigation, a search was
issued for property belonging to Maria Grazia Cerone, an
assistant to Senator Marcello Dell'Utri, a former close aide of
ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi.
The library, which was famously frequented by 18th-century
political philosopher Giambattista Vico, adjoins the Girolamini
church complex and convent.
In addition to its trove of rare writings, the library is
treasured for four well-preserved 18th-century rooms.