Rome mayor seeks immediate trial in cronyism case

Rome Mayor Virginia Raggi has asked to be put on trial immediately for allegedly making a false statement to an anti-corruption official, as she is confident of her innocence.

Rome mayor seeks immediate trial in cronyism case
Rome mayor Virginia Raggi. Photo: Tiziana Fabi/AFP

More serious charges of abuse of office against the embattled mayor were dropped in September, but prosecutors called for her to appear in court to answer charges that she lied to the head of the city’s anti-corruption watchdog when she told him she had personally appointed Renato Marra, the brother of former personnel chief Raffaele, as the town hall’s tourism chief.

Investigators suspect that Marra was actually given the job by his brother – currently on trial for corruption – and a former close aide to Raggi.

Raggi, a member of the Five Star Movement, which has based much of its appeal on anti-corruption principles, said on Tuesday that she had asked a Rome court for an immediate trial.

“I am certain of my innocence and I don’t want to dodge any trial,” she was quoted by Ansa as saying.

“I have full confidence in the justice system and I firmly believe that transparency is one of the most important values of our administration.”

The Five Star Movement is currently leading in opinion polls ahead of elections on March 4th. But its management of Rome has been tainted by scandals and little sign of progress in dealing with the capital’s crumbling public services.

Raggi, Rome’s first female mayor, was at the centre of controversy last week after rubbish piled up in parts of the capital due to disrupted collections over the Christmas holiday period. But supporters of the party have accused the city’s woes of being exaggerated by the centre-left Democratic Party.