Supergrass claim links Andreotti to Mafia: An inquiry into the death of a leading Italian politician has revealed collusion between the Christian Democrats and Cosa Nostra

THE VEIL is being lifted on possibly the most shameful of all the political ill-doings being uncovered in Italy: the collusion between the Christian Democrat party and Sicily's Cosa Nostra. And the name of Giulio Andreotti, many times prime minister, has emerged.

An investigating magistrate in Palermo has established that Salvatore Lima, the powerful Sicilian Christian Democrat politician and Andreotti associate shot dead last March, had been the Mafia's man in Rome. He was a top-level fixer who would arrange favours from the government, and acquittals from the Supreme Court, in exchange for votes.

When Lima was no longer able to produce results, probably because of the political wind of change that had already begun to blow, the cupola, the 24-strong 'government' of Cosa Nostra, ordered his assassination.

The magistrate's report on the results of the seven-month investigation into Lima's murder refers to Mr Andreotti, now a Senator for life. Lima, for 30 years one of the most powerful politicians in Sicily and most recently a Euro- MP, had been a key member of Mr Andreotti's faction within the Christian Democrat party and effectively his viceroy in Sicily.

The 139-page report owed much to the revelations of four pentiti or supergrasses. One of them, Leonardo Messina, stated that Lima 'was not a 'man of honour' (ie, a a Mafia member) himself but was very close to men of Cosa Nostra and acted as their intermediary with Andreotti'.

In an interview given just before the report was published, Senator Andreotti strongly defended his late colleague and said: 'I was linked to Lima by a very intense and personal friendship. I have to say I tried to get to the bottom of all the insinuations against him. But I never found anything, not even a clue.'

Later he added: 'Salvo Lima was never a point of reference, an intermediary between me and the clans mentioned.'

Other politicians were also named in the report, and another supergrass, Gaspare Mutolo, was quoted as saying: 'Once, it was absolutely taken for granted in Cosa Nostra that we had to support the Christian Democrats at elections . . . we were unanimously convinced that through the politicians we could usefully influence the decisions of the courts.'

The investigating magistrate Agostino Gristina has issued orders for preventive detention against the 24 Cosa Nostra bosses who make up its cupola. Five were arrested, 14 of them were already in jail and four of them, including Salvatore 'Toto' Riina, the boss of the bosses, are in hiding.

The identity of Lima's two killers is still unknown. They shot the 64-year-old politician from a powerful motorcycle outside his seaside villa in the smart resort of Mondello, near Palermo, on 12 March.

The report indicates that the decision to have Lima assassinated was taken in February after he failed to have sentences against 342 mafiosi accused in a famous 'maxi-trial' annulled or at least reduced. Lima had allegedly promised the Mafia bosses that it would all be taken care of in the Supreme Court where there was a senior judge who had repeatedly overturned Mafia convictions by lower courts - but this time it did not work.

Although links between Sicilian politicians and the Mafia had been assumed for many years, and mentioned by the parliamentary anti-Mafia commission, scholars claim this could be the first truly political Mafia crime to come to justice.

The path of the case may not be smooth. Agostini Cordova, the Calabrian judge trying to prosecute collusion between the Calabrian Mafia and political parties, particularly the Socialists, has been repeatedly harassed by 'inspections' from Rome and is having his staff severely cut back.

But leading anti-Mafia fighters are jubilant. Leoluca Orlando, a former mayor of Palermo and head of the anti-Mafia movement, La Rete, said: 'A piece of the regime is really crumbling.' But, he warned, 'it is only the tip of the iceberg.'

THE Italian government yesterday forced a key part of its 1993 austerity budget, including a public sector pay freeze and a minimum tax on the self-employed, through parliament, using a series of confidence votes, ignoring opposition protests that it was gagging its own MPs, Reuter reports.

(Photograph omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: PMLD Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: PMLD Teacher A specialist primary school i...

Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Day In a Page

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links