Italian government intervenes to assist Rome mayor

Sweeping powers granted to Rome's prefect.

Rome prefect Franco Gabrielli has been granted sweeping powers to help the city's embattled mayor Ignazio Marino, following a decree approved by the Italian government on 27 August.

A range of powers will be transferred to Gabrielli from Marino, who remains on holiday. Marino has said that he is satisfied with the measures.

Gabrielli will function as a co-ordinator and it is hoped that in this way it will be possible to shorten the period for carrying out the works that are necessary for the special Holy Year that starts in December. Rome will be governed in much the same way as Milan during the run-up to Expo Milano 2015.

The move stops short of putting the capital under direct control of a central administrator, unlike the local council at the city's coastal district Ostia which was dissolved on 27 August over concerns of Mafia infiltration.

Gabrielli and Marino will effectively be governing the capital together, with the prefect given powers to supervise some aspects of the city's regulations, the accounts and contracts for crucial services in the remaining three months before the opening of the Vatican's Jubilee Year.

L-R, Rome prefect Franco Gabrielli, Italy's interior minister Angelino Alfano, and Rome mayor Ignazio Marino.

The order by Italy's interior minister Angelino Alfano follows a recent report by Gabrielli, who found evidence of major criminal infiltration in city hall but did not recommend the dissolution of Marino's council. Gabrielli's report led to the resignation of the deputy mayor, Luigi Nieri, the eighth member to leave the city council since Marino took office more than two years ago.

Alfano said that under the new terms Gabrielli will assist the mayor in planning and overseeing contracts for specific areas such as parks, rubbish collection, the environment, housing, immigration and camps for the Roma people.

The move comes in light of the so-called Mafia Capitale case which is investigating more than 100 public officials and business figures on suspicion of crimes including bid-rigging, racketeering, aggravated fraud, issuing false invoices, and tax evasion.

It also follows the controversy surrounding the ostentatious funeral of Rome crime boss Vittorio Casamonica on 20 August in the city's Cinecittà district.

Marino has repeated that the corruption of Rome's city council was already well-established by the time he succeeded his right-wing predecessor Gianni Alemanno, the most high-profile figure under investigation in the Mafia Capitale case.