Sabato, 20 Ottobre 2018
BARI

Puglia governor looks to primaries after acquittal

English
© ANSA

Bari, October 31 - Puglia Governor Nichi Vendola
was cleared of a charge of abuse of office by a court in this
southern Italian city on Wednesday.
Prosecutors had requested a 20-month prison sentence for
Vendola for the allegedly unlawfully appointment of a local
chief of surgeons, Paolo Sardelli, at Bari's San Paolo hospital
in 2010.
"I'm happy," a tearful Vendola, the leader of the leftwing
Left Ecology Freedom (SEL) party, told ANSA after the ruling was
announced.
"I'm a good person and (being involved in this probe) was a
bitter pill for me to swallow".
The openly gay Vendola is running in the primaries to
choose the centre-left coalition's candidate to be premier at
next year's national elections, along with Pier Luigi Bersani,
the leader of the main centre-left Democratic Party (PD).
The PD's 37-year-old mayor of Florence, Matteo Renzi, is
also running in the primaries.
"Those who know me know that the trial was an important
issue for me and I was a little ashamed," Vendola said.
"Now I'm thinking about starting the charge for the
primaries. Up to now I've been held back".
Vendola, 54, had said he would quit politics if he were
convicted.
He contrasted his position with that of Silvio Berlusconi,
who said at the weekend that he had changed his mind about
leaving front-line politics - while insisting he would not run
for a fourth term as Italian premier - after being convicted of
fraud last week.
His acquittal provided some relief for Italy's political
class after a series of big corruption scandals and it was
welcomed by figures from all sides of the country's party
spectrum.
However, Fabrizio Cicchitto, the House whip for
Berlusconi's People of Freedom (PdL) party, suggested Vendola
had benefited from magistrates being softer on the Left.
"We give our best wishes and congratulations to Vendola for
the acquittal," said Cicchitto.
"But this shows that there are double standards in the
application of justice," added the whip, who last week said
Berlusconi's fraud conviction for tax evasion on the trading of
broadcasting rights for his Mediaset empire was the result of
"persecution" from left-leaning judges.
Lea Cosentino, the former head of the health board in Bari
whom Vendola fired in 2010 after she was placed under house
arrest during a graft investigation, was also acquitted of abuse
of office.
Vendola had said the case against him was based solely on
testimony from Cosentino.
"She is accusing me due to her strong resentment," he had
said.

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