Venerdì, 19 Ottobre 2018
PALERMO

Ex-Berlusconi minister acquitted of mafia charges

English
© ANSA

(ANSA) - Palermo, July 17 - A Palermo judge acquitted former
agriculture minister Saverio Romano of mafia involvement on
Tuesday.
"Finally it's over," said Romano, who faced eight years in
prison if convicted.
Accusations against the former minister in ex-premier
Silvio Berlusconi's cabinet included associating with
high-ranking Cosa Nostra members in exchange for the Sicilian
mafia's political support.
Disquiet over Romano's place in government began to grow
when Palermo prosecutors requested last July that he be sent to
trial.
The prosecutors were forced to make the indictment request
after a preliminary-hearing judge rejected their petition for
the case to be dropped.
In March 2011 President Giorgio Napolitano had expressed
reservations about Romano's appointment as agriculture minister
when swearing him in because the MP was among the suspects in a
probe into politicians allegedly having dealings with mafiosi in
exchange for electoral support.
The investigation led to the former governor of Sicily,
Salvatore Cuffaro, being imprisoned in January 2011, when his
final appeal against a seven-year term for helping the mafia
failed.
Romano has vigorously denied the eight-year-old accusations
made by informers against him, denounced an alleged campaign of
"misinformation", and accused prosecutors of trying to "usurp"
parliamentary prerogatives.
In response, former Clean Hands graftbuster Antonio Di
Pietro, the leader of an anti-Berlusconi party, had claimed
Romano was "raping" parliament.
Romano joined the cabinet in 2011 year after being part of
a group of lawmakers who changed sides to support Berlusconi's
government and help it survive after its majority in parliament
was slashed by an internal split.
He left the centrist Catholic UDC party in September and
was part of a self-styled "responsible" group of lawmakers that
the opposition claimed accepted a range of inducements to join
the ex-premier.
Two months later, Berlusconi's cabinet was replaced by
Mario Monti's amid a peak in the euro crisis.

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