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Key evidence against the man authorities believe is the Italian Unabomber was called into question Monday during a hearing in Trieste.

As a result, a pair of scissors found at the home of Elvo Zornitta will be re-tested, according to reports filed by the ANSA and Agenzia Giornalistica Italia news services. The scissors were reportedly tied to at least one of the more than two dozen bombings for which the suspect is believed to be responsible in the past decade.

But a forensics expert has been taken off the case amid questions over whether someone tampered with the evidence. According to a report by AGI, a professor at the University of Messina will now conduct tests on the scissors. His report might be delivered at a hearing scheduled for Feb. 9.

The 49-year-old Zornitta, married with a young daughter, reportedly has been a suspect since 2004. But it wasn’t until an August raid on his home in Azzano Decimo — off the A28 Autostrada between Pordenone and Portogruaro — that his name surfaced in the Italian media. According to reports, he is described as an engineer who formerly worked for an Italian defense company.

He has declared himself innocent and his lawyer, Maurizio Paniz was quoted Monday by ANSA as questioning whether the case would even continue if the scissors were excluded as evidence.

“He is still a suspect, but only in a formal sense,” Paniz was quoted as saying.

The Italian Unabomber — named after American convicted serial killer and anti-technology terrorist Theodore Kaczynski — first struck in 1994, when a bomb exploded at a bird festival in Sacile. Since then, his handiwork has been responsible for several maimings. Devices implanted in several products at Italian supermarkets have exploded when opened. Other devices have caused damage in churches, cemeteries and beaches. Several have targeted products specifically used by children.

Though no Americans have been injured in the attacks, several of the stores where devices have either been purchased or discovered are frequented by Americans. And a church in Aviano was the scene of one of the first incidents in 1995.

Newcomers to the base are briefed on the latest developments of the case, according to a release from the 31st Fighter Wing public affairs office. “The bottom-line advice given is: If you see something suspicious or an object lying in the street that you didn’t purchase, don’t pick it up or tamper with it.”

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Kent has filled numerous roles at Stars and Stripes including: copy editor, news editor, desk editor, reporter/photographer, web editor and overseas sports editor. Based at Aviano Air Base, Italy, he’s been TDY to countries such as Afghanistan Iraq, Kosovo and Bosnia. Born in California, he’s a 1988 graduate of Humboldt State University and has been a journalist for almost 38 years.
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