A key ally in Italian premier Romano Prodi’s centre-left coalition put the fate of the fragile majority government at risk last week.
Infuriated over accusations of corruption by Infrastructure minister and former anti-corruption prosecutor Antionio Di Pietro, Justice minister Clemente Mastella claimed that if the infighting did not stop ‘it would be impossible to keep the current coalition alive.’ Mastella heads the largest party in Prodi’s centre-left majority government, the UDEUR.
Di Pietro’s sharp criticism of Mastella follows news of a corruption investigation involving both Mastella and Prodi. Led by prosecutor Luigi de Magistris in the city of Catanzaro (Calabria), it probes the actions of two politicians who allegedly misappropriated European Union funds.
Although Mastella and Prodi have not been formerly implicated in the investigation, they have nonetheless denied any wrong-doing in the matter.
Di Pietro has also accused Mastella of having intentionally attempted to transfer de Magistris to another city in hopes of getting the investigation dropped or significantly delayed.
During a Cabinet meeting, Prodi managed to placate the enraged Justice minster by expressing ‘full faith’ in both Mastella and the work of investigative magistrates.