Craxi to spill beans about Communists

ITALIANS are braced for a new wave of scandals after Bettino Craxi, the former Socialist prime minister and one of the leading accused, went to magistrates at the weekend and promised to reveal everything about everyone.

In particular he has his sights on the former Communists who have so far remained relatively unbesmirched, though key members are under investigation.

'They thought they could keep out of it, but they will be hit head-on and will end up like the other parties, which do not have the money to pay their electricity bills,' said Mr Craxi.

It was an about-turn for Mr Craxi whose political career ended earlier this year amid violent protestations that the corruption charges were a plot to destroy him and his undocumented allegations that the magistrates had murky pasts. He is under investigation in more than 20 separate cases. Virtually unable to go out in Italy without being insulted and abused by passers-by, he has been living for some time in Paris.

At his own request he secretly met his chief accuser, Antonio di Pietro, on Saturday in Rome and declared he was prepared to tell all he knew as a 'historic witness of this era in Italian politics'. The meeting lasted two hours and more meetings are to come.

Mr di Pietro and his colleagues in Milan and other cities have uncovered much of the web of corruption whereby parties financed huge bureaucratic machines and extravagant life styles, while individual members enriched themselves. More than 2,000 people, including one third of the members of parliament, are under investigation, several hundred politicians, businessmen, public servants and go-betweens have been, or still are, in jail but it was already clear that there was plenty more to emerge.

'Only part of the truth has come out,' said one of Mr Craxi's lawyers, Enzo Lo Giudice, after the meeting. 'Now it is possible to reconstruct the truth on all fronts.'

The Defence Minister, Fabio Fabbri, has announced that more than 300 members of the military security service, SISMI, suspected of belonging to a nebulous organisation called Armed Falange, are to be dismissed. Armed Falange has made itself known by claiming responsibility for car bomb attacks and 10 members of SISMI are suspected of being involved in these calls.