Rome’s ex-Mayor cleared over expenses scandal

Rome, Oct 7 (IANS/AKI) A Rome court on Friday acquitted the city’s former Mayor Ignazio Marino of embezzlement over his expenses and fraud, allegations that forced him out of office last October.

“I expected this because knew I was innocent,” Marino told reporters.

“The truth has finally come out after the most slanderous accusations by the media and by political opponents,” he added.

The US-trained surgeon, who has always denied wrongdoing, said he had not yet decided if he will make a bid to return to politics.

Prosecutors in the case had requested a jail term of three years and four months for Marino, a member of Premier Matteo Renzi’s ruling centre-left Democratic Party. The prosecution can appeal Friday’s ruling.

The Democratic Party forced Marino to step down as Mayor after he lost Renzi’s support over claims that he had used his city council credit card to for pay 56 private dinners.

Marino and three other people also defrauded Italy’s national social security fund of 6,000 euros over fake consultancy payments made by an overseas aid charity Marino founded, prosecutors alleged.

Marino was elected in 2013 with a strong reputation for personal honesty, but faced mounting public anger over the dilapidated state of the capital, a failing public transport system and allegations of Mafia infiltration of the city council.

He was elected to a five-year term of office but when he lost his majority on October 30 last year, was replaced by a government-appointed commissioner who ran Rome for seven months until the election of grassroots Mayor Virginia Raggi in polls held in June.