Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Italy's former interior minister implicated in mafia talks

Nicola Mancino
by  in Rome
Prosecutors in Palermo asked on Tuesday for former Italian interior minister Nicola Mancino to be tried in connection with alleged negotiations between the state and the Sicilian mafia in the early 1990s.
Mancino, a Christian Democrat, was accused of withholding evidence about the talks. The 81 year-old politician said he would prove his innocence "and my loyalty to the state".
Others charged included Marcello Dell'Utri, a senator who created the party with which Silvio Berlusconi launched himself into politics in 1994, and a second former minister, Calogero Mannino, who still holds a seat in the lower house of parliament. Both men were alleged to have been intermediaries in the talks, aimed at ending a campaign of bombings unleashed by the Cosa Nostra in 1992.
Among the victims were two leading anti-Mafia prosecutors, Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino. National monuments in Florence and Rome were also targeted in the campaign which left 22 people dead.

The prosecutors also asked for the indictment of three former officers in the semi-militarised Carabinieri police and five top Cosa Nostra "godfathers", including two of the mafia's former supreme chiefs, Bernardo Provenzano and Salvatore 'Toto' Riina.
Earlier this month, Mancino was at the centre of a clash between the Palermo prosecutors and the current president, Giorgio Napolitano, after it emerged that investigators had listened in to a telephone call he had made to the president's office, apparently seeking help.
Extracts from a transcript of the conversation, leaked to the media, suggested Mancino had discussed with a senior official the possibility of getting Italy's chief anti-mafia prosecutor to intervene.
From 1996 to 2001, Mancino held the speakership of the Senate, the most senior office of state after the presidency. More recently, he was deputy chairman of the body that oversees the Italian judiciary.

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