Italian politician in ‘sex for housing’ scandal

A local politician in central Italy was arrested on Tuesday for allegedly assigning council homes to poor young mothers in exchange for sexual favours.

Italian politician in 'sex for housing' scandal
Ivo D'Agostino was arrested on Tuesday morning for allegedly offering council property in return for sexual favours. Photo: Emanuele/Flickr

Five women – three immigrants and two Italians – have come forward to speak out against their treatment by Ivo D'Agostino, a councillor in the town of Chieti, AbruzzoIvo.

D'Agostino, 51, is also accused of bribery, attempted bribery and sexual violence, newspaper Il Messaggero reported. 

One of the women has reportedly been visiting a psychologist following the incidents, online news site Prima Da Noi said.

The first complaint against the councillor was made on June 6th by a Cuban woman, Prima Da Noi said.

Over the following weeks, Catholic organization Caritas worked with the authorities to compile the testimonies of the Cuban woman and four other women –  from Poland, Romania and two from Italy.

They were all "poor, young mothers and often without work", Prima Da Noi said.

D'Agostino allegedly met the women in council offices and quickly told them his intentions. The advances were made in such a demanding manner "that the victims were certain of what he was proposing", Prima Da Noi reported.

The married father of four has been put under house arrest and denies the allegations.

Umberto Di Primio, the town's mayor, said he had full confidence in the judiciary and hoped that D’Agostino could prove he was not guilty, Il Messaggero reported.

In addition to housing policy, D'Agostino was also in charge of civil protection, health and hygiene, and transport at Chieti council.

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Italy’s president calls for ‘full truth’ on anniversary of Bologna bombing

President Sergio Mattarella said on Tuesday it was the state's duty to shed more light on the 1980 bombing of Bologna's train station, on the 42nd anniversary of the attack that killed 85 people and injured 200.

Italy's president calls for 'full truth' on anniversary of Bologna bombing

On August 2nd 1980, a bomb exploded in the railway station’s waiting room, causing devastation on an unprecedented scale.

Five members of terrorist groups were later convicted in relation to the bombing, the worst episode in Italy’s ‘Years of Lead’ period of political violence in the 1970s and 80s.

Most recently, in 2020, a former member of the far-right Armed Revolutionary Nucleus (NAR) was sentenced to life imprisonment for providing logistical support to those who carried out the attack.

But suspicions remain of cover-ups and the involvement of “deviant elements” within the nation’s security services, reported Italian news agency Ansa.

READ ALSO: Bologna massacre: 40 years on, questions remain over Italy’s deadliest postwar terror attack

“The bomb that killed people who happened to be at the station on that morning 42 years ago still reverberates with violence in the depths of the country’s conscience,” Mattarella said in a speech marking the anniversary on Tuesday.

“It was the act of cowardly men of unequalled inhumanity, one of the most terrible of the history of the Italian Republic.

A train compartment at Bologna station pictured following the 1980 bombing attributed to the neo-fascist terrorist organization Nuclei Armati Rivoluzionari.

“It was a terrorist attack that sought to destabilise democratic institutions and sow fear, hitting ordinary citizens going about their everyday tasks.

“On the day of the anniversary our thoughts go, above all, to the relatives forced to suffer the greatest pain.

“The neo-fascist nature of the massacre has been established in court and further steps have been made to unveil the cover-ups and those who ordered the attack in order to comply with the Republic’s duty to seek the full truth”.

The bombing remains Western Europe’s fourth deadliest postwar terror attack, and one of the most devastating in Italy’s history.