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`Black widow' murder trial told of psychics war

THE prosecutor in the Gucci ``Black Widow'' murder trial said yesterday that fashion scion Maurizio Gucci fought a ``war of psychics'' with his ex-wife before she allegedly ordered his killing.

After several sessions devoted to procedural matters, the Milan trial got down to juicy business with an opening hour-long argument by Prosecutor Carlo Nocerino.

On trial for the 1995 murder of Gucci outside his Milan office are his former wife, Patrizia Reggiani Martinelli; a high-society psychic, Pina Auriemma; the two alleged gunmen prosecutors contend were hired by Auriemma, and a hotel doorman who allegedly helped arrange the shooting.

The prosecution contends that Reggiani, dubbed the Black Widow by the Italian press, had her ex-husband murdered after he cut her alimony to £555,000 a year.

For Reggiani, ``the hypothesis of murder...became an insistent and maniacal plan,'' Nocerino told the court.

The prosecutor said Gucci and his ex-wife were ``very superstitious'' and often resorted to psychics.

``Gucci's office was filled with talismans against the evil eye,'' Nocerino said, contending the investigations revealed that the victim was convinced his ex-wife was causing him bad vibrations through a psychic. ``He hired another psychic to fight the influence .... It was a sort of war between the white psychic against the black psychic,'' Nocerino told the courtroom, where the trial is expected to go on for at least seven months.

Another reason for tension between the former spouses, the prosecution contends, was Reggiani's initial opposition to the 1993 sale of the 50 per cent Gucci stake, which ended the family ownership of the luxury leather goods group, to the Bahrain based Investcorp.

Nocerino told the court that Gucci was killed with four pistol shots as he entered his office building in downtown Milan.

Prosecutors contend the hitmen were hired by Auriemma through hotel doorman Ivano Savioni, whose testimony, as well as dozens of wiretapped conversations and other evidence, are expected to be used to buttress the prosecution.

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Nocerino contended Gucci's ex-wife paid the alleged accomplices £210,000.

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