Bossi faces trial for corruption

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UMBERTO BOSSI, the Northern League leader, and his treasurer, Alessandro Patelli, are among 32 people who will go on trial in Milan on 5 July in connection with the Enimont scandal, nicknamed the 'mother and father of all bribes'.

Two former prime ministers, several former cabinet ministers and former secretaries of the discredited old political parties will also be in the dock.

Mr Bossi and Mr Patelli will be charged, like the old- guard politicians they fought to topple, with breaking the law on party financing and unlawful appropriation.

The accused include a cross-section of the country's Tangentopoli (Bribesville) suspects - Bettino Craxi and Arnaldo Forlani, former Socialist and Christian Democrat prime ministers, Gianni de Michaelis, former foreign minister, Claudio Martelli, former justice minister and Paolo Cirino Pomicino, former budget minister.

It will be the biggest trial to follow Italy's corruption investigations, and involves an estimated 150bn lire ( pounds 60m), allegedly paid to the political parties by the Ferruzzi foods and chemicals conglomerate, to extricate themselves from a failed joint venture with ENI, the state-owned petrochemicals concern.

Mr Craxi, who is abroad and resisting orders to return and hand in his passport, was ruled by the magistrate who ordered the trial to be in default. The magistrate, Italo Ghitti, was not convinced by his claim that he needed medical treatment in Tunisia, and rejected his request to try him separately later. Mr Craxi's son-in-law, Paolo Pillitteri, former mayor of Milan, and his former secretary, Maurizio Giallombardo, have also been committed for trial.

Carlo Sama, a principal member by marriage of the Ferruzzi dynasty and former chief executive of its Montedison chemicals concern, Giuseppe Garofano, former chairman of the Montedison board, and other former top executives were also sent for trial.