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Former Italian minister held over links with mafia

Source : IANS
Last Updated: Sat, Mar 16, 2013 02:50 hrs

Naples, March 16 (IANS/AKI) A former minister and lawmaker in Italy has been detained on corruption charges and for his alleged association with the mafia.

Nicola Cosentino was arrested after he lost his immunity from prosecution. He was not re-elected to the new Italian parliament.

Cosentino, a businessman who was a junior economy minister in the last Berlusconi government, stepped down in July 2011.

The lawmaker had been barred by former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi's People of Freedom party from running in the election.

His resignation came days before a no-confidence vote that followed allegations he was part of a secret society aimed at networking and influencing the country's power establishment. Such organisations are illegal in Italy.

Costentino is accused of pressuring Italy's largest bank UniCredit to provide a line of credit to a company with alleged links to the Camorra mafia to build a shopping centre.

He is also accused of doing business with the Camorra over the illegal disposal of rubbish in Naples.

Prosecutors also allege he was involved in voting fraud in the 2007 and 2010 local elections.

A close ally of Berlusconi, he was the party's regional coordinator in Campania region around Naples and made a 2010 bid to run for regional governor.

In December 2009, the Italian parliament rejected a request for Cosentino's arrest and in September 2010 politicians in a secret ballot voted in favour of forbidding prosecutors from using telephone taps of conversations between Consentino and businessmen suspected of having ties with organised crime.

Cosentino denies any wrongoing.

--IANS/AKI

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