The Sleaze Factor: Rome judge targets ex-Communists

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The Independent Online
ROME - Italy's Tangentopoli scandal came full circle yesterday as judges opened investigations into the former Communist Party, the Democratic Party of the Left (PDS), which has remained largely unscathed, writes Fiona Leney.

The party leadership immediately protested that the inquiry was the result of government pressure.

The senior prosecutor for Rome, Michele Coiro, requested copies of accounts kept before and after the party's transformation as part of inquiries into possible illegal funding. Both Achille Occhetto, former party leader, and Massimo D'Alema, who took over from him, will be questioned. Mr Coiro emphasised yesterday that the inquiry was 'a necessary but routine act'.

The announcement comes after bitter government complaints that the judiciary has favoured the left and persecuted the Fininvest business empire of the Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi.

Left-wing deputies were adamant yesterday that the government was targeting the biggest opposition party to 'encourage' a blanket amnesty, in effect bringing the Tangentopoli saga to a close.