Investigation unearths mafia collusion in Democratic Party

Stefano Graziano

 ROME -- The president of the Democratic Party in Campania, Stefano Graziano, who also acts as a regional councillor, is under investigation by the District Anti-Mafia Directorate in Naples for alleged collusion with the mafia group Camorra.  Biagio Di Muro, the mayor of Santa Maria Capua Vetere (in Casata) until last November, along with the catering entrepreneur Alessandro Zagaria who is reportedly considered to be the link between the politicians and the mafia boss Michele Zagaria, landed in jail on Wednesday for alleged bribery.

 Seven others have also been placed under house arrest as they are investigated.  Graziano has suspended himself from the party and Renzi’s office has stated that his role will not be renewed.  Meanwhile he is staying in his seat on the regional council, whilst he is accused of receiving support from the clan in regional elections last year through the direct support of Alessandro Zagaria who placed himself “as a political and administrative point of reference” for the clan.

 The investigation is revolving around the contract for the consolidation works and “retraining in the centre of Culture and Legality” in the Palazzo Teti Maffuccini, a historic building in Santa Maria Capua Vetere, after some conversations between Di Mura and A. Zagaria were intercepted.  During these conversations reference was made to ensuring support for Graziano in the election, as well as the financing of the Palzzo Teti works.

 It emerged that Di Muro, along with two of his colleagues, allegedly received bribes of 100,000 euros from the legal representatives of the companies ‘Archicons Srl’ and ‘Lande Srl’ that were responsible for the work on the building, and reportedly received work totalling a sum of two million euros.  The bribes were allegedly covered up by a series of false invoices.

 Di Mura is by no means the first mayor to be arrested in the region for collusion with the Zagaria clan, with many other arrests having taken place over the past months.  These arrests are reportedly the first step in an investigation that has spread like wildfire to open up a wider investigation on procurement and bribery.

 The investigation has sparked a political storm for the Democratic Party from all sides.  Lega Nord leader Matteo Salvini, who is currently in the United States, said: “Whist listening to and meeting many Italian-American entrepreneurs with a desire to do well, and honest young people fleeing from Italy, from Rome there’s news of more arrests and investigations into the ruling party for serious crimes and collusion with organised crime.  How sad…”  Renzi meanwhile has distanced himself from Graziano, though he did add that he doesn’t believe justice to be operating on a political agenda and has confirmed that he is planning for quicker trials.