Rome mayor cleared in cronyism trial

ROME: Rome Mayor Virginia Raggi (pictured) was acquitted on Saturday of making false statements to cover up suspected cronyism, bringing a sigh of relief to Italy’s main ruling party, the anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S). The M5S-affiliated Raggi stood accused of lying when she said that her former head of personnel, Raffaele Marra, did not influence her decision to promote Marra’s brother Renato to a senior council position.  “Acquitted. With this word, the Rome tribunal, which I thank and respect for the work it has done, has put an end to two years in which I suffered media and political attacks of unprecedented brutality and unjustifiable ferocity,” Raggi wrote on Facebook. On Twitter, she celebrated the end of “two years of mudslinging.”

Prosecutors had asked for a 10-month jail sentence. They said they would wait for judges to explain their decision in writing — which usually takes several weeks — before deciding whether to appeal the ruling. Raggi, Rome’s first-ever female mayor, was elected in 2016. It was a historic victory for the M5S, an anti-establishment party which has since conquered national government, forming a coalition this year with the far-right League. Earning a criminal record would have been politically embarrassing for a politician who won on the back of a clean politics ticket, after a local graft scandal discredited politicians from rival parties. She would have had to resign, according to the M5S’ ethics code. — DPA