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Milan arrests muddy prospects for Mifed

U decides not to send acquisitions execs to Italy

The arrest of three people suspected to be Arab terrorists in Milan on Wednesday has cast a further cloud over the prospects for this year’s Mifed film market, which is set to open Oct. 27.

Coming just two days after a plane crash at Milan’s Linate airport in which 118 people were killed, the latest news is sure to make film execs even more nervous about traveling to the northern Italian city.

The three arrests were part of an ongoing investigation by Italian police into a group of Tunisians suspected of having connections to Osama bin Laden, being hunted for the Sept. 11 terrorism in the U.S.

Five Tunisians already have been under arrest since April, suspected of plotting to bomb the U.S. embassy in Rome.

There is no suggestion that the three men most recently arrested were planning any specific terrorist activity in Milan itself. Meanwhile, the crash at Linate has been determined to be an accident unrelated to the current global crisis.

Nonetheless, it amounts to a barrage of bad publicity for Milan at a time when the international film community is finalizing its travel plans for Mifed and the London Screenings the week before.

Universal Pictures is one major player that decided this week not to send any acquisitions execs on to Milan after the London week. Sources said the decision was primarily driven by the shortage of attractive movies to buy, but was also influenced by the desire to keep travel to a minimum at this time.

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