Italian president gives evidence

Published: Tuesday 28th October 2014 by The News Editor

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Italy’s president has given evidence for three hours behind closed doors in a Mafia trial over purported negotiations between the state and organised crime to stop terror attacks in the 1990s.

The office of President Giorgio Napolitano said the 89-year-old responded to all questions put to him, including those he could have refused to answer. Some questions came from the lawyer of Italy’s most notorious mob boss, Salvatore “Toto” Riina.

Prosecutors were seeking Mr Napolitano’s testimony in connection with the trial of a former government official accused of giving false testimony in the investigation over purported state-mafia negotiations. Mr Napolitano has not been accused of any wrongdoing and was called as a witness.

Magistrates travelled from Palermo to Rome to question Mr Napolitano about communications he had with a now-deceased aide whose dealings with the main suspect, former interior minister Nicola Mancino, are being investigated.

Mancino is on trial for allegedly giving false testimony about purported negotiations between the state and the Mafia following the 1993 bombings of churches in Rome, the Uffizi museum in Florence and a Milan park. Mancino has denied any negotiations.

Prosecutors allege that after the bombings on the mainland, government officials sought to cut a deal with Mafia bosses, promising more lenient prison conditions in exchange for calling off the bombing campaign.

Mr Napolitano, who was president of Italy’s lower chamber of deputies at the time, had said he had nothing useful to tell the court but he agreed to testify.

The hearing occurred behind closed doors in the presidential palace with no media present.

In a statement, Mr Napolitano’s office said it hoped the court would publish the transcript of the hearing as soon as possible to show the public how the president had shown “the maximum transparency and serenity” during the interrogation.

Published: Tuesday 28th October 2014 by The News Editor

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