'People do worse things,' says politician who slashed tyres of disabled pensioner

Italian politicians have a formidable to-do list, with surging unemployment, a shrinking economy and rampant corruption to contend with. But their biggest problem, many Italians would argue, lies in their inability to apologise, let alone quit, when they find themselves in disgrace.

The former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi may have led the way in shamelessness. But this week it was a member of the tycoon's People of Freedom (PDL) party who took unabashed indecency to a new level. Antonio Piazza, a member of the party's executive committee for Lecco province, not only managed to offend Lecco's disabled citizens – he even horrified his PDL colleagues. Mr Piazza, who is also the president of the Lombardy region housing association, habitually parked his Jaguar in a place reserved for disabled drivers. In August, a disabled driver turned up and, finding nowhere else to go, told a policeman that Mr Piazza's car was illegally occupying the spot. The politician was forced to give up the place and pay an €80 (£65) fine.

But as soon as the policeman left, Mr Piazza returned with a knife and ripped holes in the front and rear tyres of the pensioner's vehicle. He was caught on a security camera, but it didn't end there. A defiant Mr Piazza, no doubt enraged by the pedantic and vindictive behaviour of the disabled pensioner told stunned reporters: "People do worse things"

When word got around and both the housing association and the local PDL party announced they wanted nothing more to do with him, Mr Piazza still appeared to be wanting in the self-awareness department. "My resignation is really unfair. I certainly haven't gone voluntarily," he said.

But a day later, even Mr Piazza appeared to realise he was skating on thin ice. "The resignations are fair. Now I have to accept that I have done wrong." He couldn't, however, resist a final excuse.

"There are people who've done worse things than me and they're still there," he said, without naming anyone.

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