Resignation linked to Mafia Capitale probe.
Rome's deputy mayor Luigi Nieri resigned late on Tuesday 14 July, becoming the second high-ranking official to quit the administration of embattled mayor Ignazio Marino in recent days.
Nieri's resignation comes after his name was mentioned in the ongoing 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.
The deputy mayor, a member of the left-wing Sinistra Ecologia Libertà (SEL) party, denies any wrongdoing and says that nobody has asked him to resign. He claims he is leaving to defend the administration of Marino, who described Nieri as a "loyal person of exemplary honesty, a gentleman of impeccable behaviour.
Nieri announced his resignation four days after the council's secretary general Liborio Iudicello stood down in the wake of the report on the city administration by Rome prefect Franco Gabrielli on 10 July. Gabrielli had been tasked with assessing whether the council should be dissolved, as part of the ever-widening investigation into a mafia syndicate allegedly operating in city hall.
Gabrielli found that evidence existed of major criminal infiltration in the awarding of city contracts and recommended that the council continue to be monitored. However he said that there has been a “discontinuity” of criminal infiltration since the previous centre-right administration of rightwing mayor Gianni Alemanno, Marino's immediate predecessor.
The Gabrielli report, which does not recommend the wholescale dissolution of the Marino council, has been passed to Italy's minister of the interior, Angelino Alfano, who has three months to make the final decision.
Ex-mayor Alemanno is the most high-profile figure to be investigated in the Mafia Capitale case, which centres mainly on the embezzlement of funds destined for emergency housing for immigrants and camps for Roma people, but also includes other sectors such as waste management, recycling and parks maintenance.
Marino, a member of Italian premier Matteo Renzi's centre-left Partito Democratico (PD) party, has also been under pressure to resign over the Mafia Capitale investigation, even though he is not personally implicated. In early June Renzi said that Marino could not be held responsible for a corrupt system which was already well-established by the time the mayor took office two years ago.
The mayor has already lost a number of key personnel, including his transport councillor Guido Improta, however he has repeatedly dismissed calls for his own resignation, saying “that is what the Mafia would like”, and that under his administration “their criminal plans have failed.” The defiant mayor recently stated his intention to see out his current five-year term of office, which ends in 2018, and then stand for re-election until 2023.