18 years after the Mani Pulite (Clean Hands) corruption investigations shook the foundations of Italian politics, corruption and bribery are once more rearing their ugly heads in the Italian political world.
Guido Bertolaso, head of the Protezione Civile emergency unit, considered one of Berlusconi’s main aides, is under investigation after allegedly receiving bribes for the public tenders involved in building the new conference and luxury health centre in the beautiful La Maddelana area of Sardinia, originally intended for the G8 conference in 2009.
Judges in Florence announced he was under investigation as part of the probe into the way € 327m in public contracts were handled.
Mr Bertolaso immediately offered his resignation as chief of the Civil Protection organisation, but was promptly refused by Mr Berlusconi who said that judges should “be ashamed” of what they were doing. Just days before he had praised Bertolaso for his work in the aftermath of the earthquake in L’Aquila last April which killed and left homeless. The G8 was in fact moved from La Maddelena to L’Aquila at Berlusconi’s request in order to show the world what had happened and what was being done, although some condemned it merely as a huge Mussolini-style propoganda excercise.
Investigations took a typical ‘Berlusconi-style’ twist last week as investigators also touched upon the possibility of sex parties involving Bertolaso at the La Maddelena in the still unused health and hotel centre in return for public building concessions.
A government (read Berlusconi) proposal to privatise the Protezione Civile emergency unit was yesterday shelved by Parliament. The unit is called into action for handling natural disasters such as eathquakes, flooding etc although also has a role in organising various events ranging from the year 2000 Jubilee celebrations in Rome down to cycling races and other sporting events.