Milan case MPs lose immunity

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ROME (Reuter) - Magistrates investigating a huge corruption scandal in Milan got a boost from the Italian parliament yesterday when it removed the immunity of five MPs tied to the affair. The five accused include two Socialist former mayors of Milan - Carlo Tognoli and Paolo Pillitteri, brother-in-law of Bettino Craxi, the Socialist Party leader.

All five MPs have denied any wrong-doing. Magistrates investigating the multi-million dollar city hall bribery scandal have said they are suspected of various offences, including corruption and violating laws on party financing. The five MPs had all requested their own immunity be removed, saying they welcomed the opportunity to prove their innocence.

In a secret vote, the Chamber of Deputies gave magistrates permission to pursue their investigations into the five MPs. But the vote was only a partial victory for the investigators. The lower chamber turned down their request to detain any of the five or to issue search-warrants against them.

Mr Craxi, whose party has been hit hardest by the scandal, fired a broadside at the investigators after the vote, questioning the validity of the investigation. 'There are aspects of the Milanese investigation which are anything but convincing,' he said.

The scandal blew up in February when police arrested a Socialist politician running the city's main orphanage.