President of Liguria refuses to resign following arrest

  ROME --Giovanni Toti, President of the Liguria region, is refusing to resign following his arrest earlier this week, according to government officials. 

  Sources from the Guardia di Finanza suggest investigations that led to Toti’s arrest began four years ago, concerning electoral funding and port concessions. Formerly the director of Studio Aperto and Tg4, Toti entered politics as a “direct call” from former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who appointed him a councillor. 

  The centre-right is currently rallying around Toti. “We express our full support to Vice-President Alessandro Piana, the junta and the majority that supports it.” reads a statement signed by the FDL’s Matteo Rosso, Edoardo Rixi from the Lega party, Carlo Bagnasco of Forza Italia and Ilaria Cavo from Toti’s party, Noi Moderati. They are currently the feasibility of Toti maintaining his role as President of the Region if released but resigning only from the position of Regional Councillor. 

  Minister of Justice Carlo Nordio, a member of Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s party, Brothers of Italy, urged the people to “trust in the judiciary and the presumption of innocence.” These sentiments were echoed by Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani, “Everyone is free to speak in a democracy: Minister Nordio has a role and can say what he thinks. I agree with his words: this is a legal affair that goes back several years, perhaps one could have intervened two months ago or the day after the elections.”

  Toti has, however, faced criticism from the left, with opposition parties calling for his resignation. “It would be right to resign.” explained Elly Schlein, secretary of the Democratic Party, “If proved, the allegations paint a picture of unprecedented gravity. A corrupt system and a relationship with organised crime that reaches the highest levels of government in the region. I believe in innocent until proven guilty, but when the accusations are so serious there is a political opportunity to take a step back, out of respect for the institutions.”

  Similarly, the Democratic Party’s Head of Justice, Debora Serracchiani, called for Toti’s immediate resignation. The court orders indicate an assumption of crime, which the judiciary will deal with, but it is clear that the affair is entirely political and that the step back is necessary to avoid serious discredit of the institutions.” 

  Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni has failed to comment on the matter. 

  The President of Liguria is due to appear before the magistrate on Friday for questioning.