Crime-buster to head Olive Tree ministry

Antonio Di Pietro, the former corruption-busting magistrate looking for a new career in politics, finally decided this weekend to accept a ministry in the new government being formed by the centre-left Olive Tree coalition, thus ending months of speculation about his future.

Mr Di Pietro wrote a letter to the man preparing to head the new government, Romano Prodi, saying he would accept an offer to head the Public Works Ministry but that he would remain independent as a "technocrat external to the governing coalition".

The decision was an important boost to Mr Prodi's government-forming efforts, because Mr Di Pietro has been considered a major political prize whom both left and right have tried to capture. He is regularly voted the country's most popular public figure, and one poll suggested he would have won the recent general elections, had he run for office.

Members of the centre-right opposition barely concealed their disappointment yesterday, accusing Mr Di Pietro of making an unprincipled choice based on thirst for power.

The former magistrate is particularly well-suited to the Public Works Ministry because it will give him the chance to attack the main source of political corruption in Italy - the handling of public contracts. When Mr Di Pietro challenged the system of contract 'kickbacks' four years ago, from the Milan prosecutor's office, he brought down the entire Italian ruling order.

Mr Di Pietro resigned from the magistrature at the end of 1994, in somewhat mysterious circumstances, and has since struggled to find a role. He conducted negotiations with leaders of all the main political parties but stayed out of the recent election campaign because of a series of judicial smears that he has only just shaken off.

A conservative by instinct, it appears he was tempted for a long time to join the centre-right coalition headed by the former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, either as an ally or as an alternative leader. But Mr Berlusconi himself proved too big an obstacle, since one of Mr Di Pietro's last judicial investigations was into the media magnate's business empire, and the two men are irreconcilably at odds.

Negotiations with Mr Prodi were equally unpromising at first, because Mr Di Pietro wanted a big ministry - Interior or Justice. The Public Works Ministry - apparently first suggested by Mr Prodi's niece,emerged as a useful compromise. It is not a particularly sensitive position politically, and it will allow Mr Di Pietro to do what he does best, with an authority that few other public figures could ever hope to match.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: 3rd Line Virtualisation, Windows & Server Engineer

£40000 - £47000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A 3rd Line Virtualisation / Sto...

Recruitment Genius: Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Service Engineer

£26000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A successful national service f...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive / Sales - OTE £25,000

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Fixed Term Contract

£17500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We currently require an experie...

Day In a Page

Syria civil war: Meet the military commander who says his soldiers will not rest until every inch of their war torn country is free of Islamist 'terrorists'

‘We won’t stop until Syria is back to normal’

Near the front lines with Islamist-controlled towns where Assad’s troops were besieged just last month, Robert Fisk meets a commander confidently preparing his soldiers for battle
The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation may undermine Hillary's chances

The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation...

... and how it may undermine Hillary's chances in 2016
12 best olive oils

Extra-virgin, cold-press, early-harvest, ultra-premium: 12 best olive oils

Choosing an olive oil is a surprising minefield. Save yourself the hassle with our handy guide
Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back