Net descends on Naples

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The Independent Online
THE BROTHER of the former Italian prime minister and Christian Democrat party leader, Ciriaco De Mita, was arrested yesterday in connection with large-scale alleged corruption following the 1980 earthquake in the Irpinia area of southern Italy writes Patricia Clough.

Michele De Mita, 59, a building contractor and a former local Christian Democrat official, was arrested in Naples. The charges concern the construction of a potato processing plant with government funds allotted for reconstruction of the area after the earthquake. The plant allegedly cost much less than the pounds 7.2m grant given for it.

The earthquake, in which some 3,000 died, gave rise to a huge potential scandal: the government has poured vast amounts of money into the area - three times more than was originally estimated to be needed - yet thousands of those made homeless are still living in huts. A parliamentary committee headed by Oscar Luigi Scalfaro, now President of Italy, found widespread abuses but no action has yet been taken. Ciriaco De Mita is the leading politician from the area.

A former Communist Party official for Turin, Primo Greganti, was arrested yesterday on corruption charges. The arrest was in connection with a Swiss bank account, alleged to have been used by the old Communist Party (now the Democratic Left Party) for illicit rake-offs. The party denies having any such account. Several ex-Communists are involved in corruption scandals, though not to the same extent as the Socialists and Christian Democrats.

Two government decrees designed to ease the burden on the magistrates of the corruption investigations were due to be approved by the cabinet yesterday but appeared likely to be postponed. Under the decrees corrupt politicians who confessed everything, paid the money back and left public life for good, would not have to serve their sentences.

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