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Newspapers Say Convicted Financier’s Death Likely a Suicide

May 21, 1986

MILAN, Italy (AP) _ Investigators probing the cyanide poisoning of convict-financier Michele Sindona are leaning toward a verdict of suicide, Italian newspapers said Wednesday.

″A suicide masquerading as a homicide,″ said the respected La Stampa newspaper of Turin. ″The probe into the strange death of Michele Sindona is destined to conclude with this verdict.″

The 65-year-old Sicilian fell into a coma the morning of March 20 in Voghera prison, where he was serving a life sentence for ordering the death of a young investigator probing his tangled and corrupt financial affairs.

A prison guard was reported to have heard him scream, ″They have poisoned me″ before he collapsed. He died two days later.

Investigators said he had been killed by cyanide, and traces of the poison were found in the cup from which he drank his last morning coffee.

Sindona was known to have tried suicide before, but investigators were reluctant to draw hasty conclusions: Sindona, whose financial empire involved powerful people from the Vatican to the Mafia underworld, had many enemies.

The La Stampa newspaper said investigators had found traces of cyanide in the bathroom of Sindona’s maximum-security cell - the only place that isn’t scrutinized by closed-circuit television cameras. In addition, no cyanide was found in the thermos in which the coffee was brought to his cell.

These findings led investigators toward the idea that Sindona had to have poisoned himself, according to Wednesday’s accounts, although the Milan prosecutors heading the investigation refused to confirm or deny the reports.

La Stampa and other newspapers said the official report into Sindona’s death likely would be completed within the next week.

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