ILLEGAL FINANCING of political parties was the Mani Puliti (Clean Hands) corruption scandal, which brought down Italy's seemingly irremovable Christian Democrat-led power system in 1992. All parties of the coalition governments took millions of illicit dollars from business. The defence was "everyone did it" and even the Communist Party was investigat-ed. Judges discovered secret Swiss bank accounts and slush funds, and heard of suitcases full of cash given to party functionaries
Two former prime ministers are named, the former Socialist leader Bettino Craxi, being treated for cancer in Tunisia where he has been in self-imposed exile since 1994, and the media mogul turned politician, Silvio Berlusconi (above), leader of the opposition Freedom Front.
Mr Craxi has refused to return to Italy unless he is granted a pardon first.