Anti-EU campaigner ends Vatican dome protest

Marcello Di Finizio scaled the dome of St Peter's and unfurled a banner

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A man has ended his protest atop St Peter's Basilica in the Vatican, where he had been demonstrating against EU laws he said penalised small business.

Marcello Di Finizio, a beach bar owner from Trieste, stood on one of the many ornate window ledges of the dome for more than 24 hours.

He unveiled a large fabric banner, which read: "Help! Enough Monti. Enough Europe. Enough multinationals!"

He was later pulled to safety by two Italian firefighters.

On the square below, Pope Benedict XVI held a traditional service at the basilica on Wednesday morning despite the protest taking place on the dome above.

The protest attracted a crowd of tourists and curious bystanders, who snapped pictures of Mr Di Finizio.

He staged a similar protest in July against an EU directive that would see parts of the seafront auctioned off.

'Desperate'

Mr Di Finizio started to scale the dome, an iconic feature of one of Catholicism's most revered churches, on Tuesday afternoon.

According to one of his friends, he was angry about an EU directive, backed by the Italian government, which would reform rules for auctioning licences to operate patches of Italy's seafront. He argued the measure would favour big multinationals.

A telephone call to Italian ministers earlier on Tuesday had failed to persuade him to climb down.

"I'm desperate, I'm ready to risk my life," he was quoted as saying by local media.

Mr Di Finizio rents out parasols and sun loungers to sun bathers.

In August, beach operators protested against the measures by keeping parasols closed along large stretches on Italy's coastline.

The operators have said the new rules threaten the jobs of some 600,000 resort workers.

The directive is due to come into effect in Italy from 2016.

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