Italy's populist, self-proclaimed anti-corruption party has reportedly been accused of striking deals with the mafia.
The leader of Five Star Movement, Beppe Grillo, confirmed on his blog that police were investigating a former councillor of the Five Star Movement, who is suspected of accepting mob votes in exchange for handing contracts to mafia businesses.
According to The Times, the alleged deal was uncovered when investigators wiretapped the calls of a businessman linked to the mob in the town of Quarto, near Naples.
The man, identified as Alfonso Cesarano, allegedly told his colleagues to ensure residents, even elderly “80-year olds”, voted for Giovanni De Robbio.
After the Five Star Movement won the town hall in June 2015, he was reportedly overheard saying: “He got 890 votes, more than anyone else. We’re with the winner, understand?”
Mr Cesarano, who is allegedly linked to the Naples Camorra mafia, added: “He needs to give us what we told him to give us. He has done a deal with us.”
Local media also reported that Mr De Robbio allegedly attempted extortion against Mayor Rosa Capuozzo.
According to Il Post, the prosecution alleges Mr De Robbio threatened Ms Capuozzo several times in order in force her to entrust a sports field to Mr Cesarano.
Mr Grillo said on his blog the Naples Camorra mafia did not influence the party’s electoral win, and Ms Capuozzo “never gave in to the demands” of Mr De Robbio.
He pointed out that Mr De Robbio was expelled from the party in December “for behaviour clearly not in accordance with the program”, 10 days before he was informed of the investigation.
Italy’s Democratic Party, led by prime minister Matteo Renzi, was quick to attack the claims.
Sandra Zampa, vice president of the Democratic Party, criticised the “silence of the leaders of the Five Star Movement”, according to Il Post.
MEP Simona Bonafe took to Twitter to denounce the situation, also attacking the party’s “silence on the trade vote”.
The party issued a statement to news agencies, saying: “It is frankly laughable how the Democratic party steps up into a moral pulpit after going arm in arm with the mafia until now.”
The Five Star Movement party is Italy's second party, and one of Europe's most successful anti-corruption parties. It was started by Mr Grillo, a former comedian, in 2009.
Their main policies include being opposing corruption, prioritising environmentalism, and supporting a referendum on EU membership.
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