Former Italy minister gets 4 years'

2013-02-13 18:16
Raffaele Fitto (Picture: AFP)

Raffaele Fitto (Picture: AFP)

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Rome - A former minister and leading candidate for Silvio Berlusconi's party in February elections was on Wednesday convicted and sentenced to four years in prison for corruption and other crimes.

Raffaele Fitto, 43, served in Berlusconi's conservative government from 2008 to 2011 as a regional affairs minister.

He is now a top candidate for the conservative People of Freedom (PDL) party in 24 to 25 February elections.

He can still run in the elections as the conviction can be appealed. Fitto is to address the media about his plans later on Wednesday.

A court in Bari ruled that the $672 000 Fitto was given by a businessman to finance a campaign in 2005 was a bribe for a rigged public tender he awarded when he was regional governor of Apulia from 2000 to 2005.

The businessman, Giampaolo Angelucci, was jailed for three and a half years.

Fitto, a parliamentarian since 2006, was banned from public office for five years.

He was also found guilty of abuse of power for the irregular financing of Catholic Church activities when he was governor.

He might face a second trial over another suspect deal with a businessman.

The court has asked prosecutors to investigate the circumstances under which Apulia's publicly owned airport company paid advertising money to local TV channel owner Paolo Pagliaro, who supported Fitto's electoral campaigns.

Berlusconi said: "The big hand of the judiciary is entering the election campaign," referring to Fitto and Roberto Formigoni, the outgoing PDL governor of Lombardy who was charged with corruption on Tuesday.

Read more on:    silvio berlusconi  |  italy

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