Investigation closes on Andreotti: Italy's former PM accused of illicit party financing and links to Mafia

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The Independent Online
GIULIO ANDREOTTI, the former prime minister allegedly known as 'uncle' to the Mafia, was yesterday caught up in Italy's corruption scandal. A week after allegations of collusion with the Mafia, he received notice that he is under investigation for breaking the law on party finances.

The investigations follow an alleged declaration by a former Social Democrat official that Mr Andreotti had ordered the state holding firm, Efim, to pass him a sum of money destined for the Social Democrat party. Further details were not disclosed. Political parties frequently shared illicit funds.

A second Christian Democrat former prime minister was implicated in the scandal yesterday when magistrates warned Arnaldo Forlani that allegations he broke a law on party financing were being investigated.

Mr Andreotti's supposed association with the Mafia has shaken the country, particularly since Italians can now read the text of the 246-page request by the Palermo magistrates to the Senate to lift Mr Andreotti's parliamentary immunity. The Senate's immunity commission will meet to consider the request on 14 April.

Much of the case is based on the declarations by various Mafia pentiti or turncoats, but not all. One of the pentiti was Gaspare Mutolo. Mutolo had told much, but declined to name the Mafia's politicians because the ensuing scandal could defeat the progress being made against the Mafia. He changed his mind after seeing the recently captured Salvatore Riina, the Mafia's boss of bosses, on television, speaking in the first of his trials. Riina sought to discredit the pentiti and added, 'I do not know any politicians.' Mutolo said: 'Since I know him well, I knew immediately that . . . he wanted to reassure the politicians (whom he knows very well) that . . . neither he nor his men would say anything. On the other hand, he let it be known that these politicians should start to 'move' again in the Mafia's interests or . . . they could be overthrown. Therefore I believe this is a very dangerous period and . . . the politicians linked to the Mafia will try and do everything to block and sabotage the successful operations which the magistrature has undertaken in recent months with the help of collaborators.'

Mutolo felt he had to 'tackle the most important problem, represented by the person who certainly was - as long as I was in the Mafia - the most powerful political patron of the Mafia. I mean Senator Giulio Andreotti'.

Several pentiti have alleged that one of the services provided was to 'adjust' trials so that Mafia bosses were acquitted. Leonardo Messina, an important pentito said: 'There were precise guarantees that the (latest maxi- trial of bosses) before the Supreme Court would have ended in a 'screw- up' and that these guarantees came from (Salvatore) Lima (Mr Andreotti's political lieutenant in Sicily), Mr Andreotti and the Supreme Court president, (Carrado) Carnevale, with whom 'everything had been fixed'.'

Mr Messina also said that he had often heard Mr Andreotti spoken of in Mafia circles 'as a person close to the organisation and called, almost affectionately, 'uncle' '.

Another pentito who refused at first to speak of the Mafia's political relations for the same reasons was the very first, Tommaso Buscetta. Then the court 'guarantees' failed (Mr Carnevale had been removed), and Lima was assassinated. And Buscetta told the parliamentary Anti-Mafia Commission that Lima's murder 'served to denigrate Andreotti'. That meant 'deprive him of votes'.

During the kidnapping of the former prime minister Aldo Moro, later murdered, some Mafia bosses, according to another pentito, Francesco Marino Mannoia, wanted to liberate Moro as a favour to their political friends, others wanted to keep out. Finally, one boss said to another: 'You haven't understood. Top politicians in his party don't want him freed.'

The Palermo magistrates' document also includes extracts dated 6 April 1982 from the diary of General Alberto dalla Chiesa, the courageous anti-Mafia prefect of Palermo, about a meeting with Mr Andreotti that day. The general wrote that he told Mr Andreotti he knew all about the Mafia activities of his men in Sicily and would not let political considerations stop him bringing them to justice.

It also recalls that the general's son, Fernando, testified in court that his father had told him that on hearing that, 'Andreotti went white'. The general was assassinated in September that year.

Mr Andreotti denies all the allegations. The Christian Democrat floor leaders of the Senate and Chamber have told the judiciary there is a Mafia plot against Mr Andreotti.

(Photograph omitted)