Political leaders in Rome have called for a new investigation in the death of acclaimed film director Pier Paulo Pasolini in 1975.

A 17-year-old rent boy, Giuseppe Pelosi, was convicted of his murder.

Two years ago, on his release from prison, Pelosi claimed that three other men had attacked Pasolini and repeatedly ran him over with his own car.

For decades there have been rumours that Pasolini was murdered because he knew political secrets and that there was Mafia or secret service involvement in his death on the beach at Ostia.

Now the Mayor of Rome, Walter Veltroni, has signed a peitition, endorsed by 700 leading Italian intellectuals, demanding a new investigation.

Pasolini, who was openly gay, is best remembered for two films.

His 1964 work The Gospel According to St Matthew is regarded as one of the most accomplished accounts of the life of Jesus ever made.

In 1975 Salo, or 120 Days of Sodom garnered as much public notice as his gospel work, but for all the wrong reasons.

Based on the writings of the Marquis de Sade, the film was banned in many countries because of its portrayal of violence, gay sex and orgy scenes.

The Mayor of Rome commented: “It is right that new light should be shed on a murder that robbed Rome, Italy and the world of such a major figure.”