Apulian Brothers of Italy leader in alleged corruption probe

Francesco Ventola


   ROME -- Francesco Ventola, group leader of the Brothers of Italy party in the Apulia Regional Council is under investigation for alleged criminal conspiracy and electoral corruption, judicial sources were quoted as saying Monday.

  The news was made public by Andrea Silvestri, lawyer and former regional councillor under Raffaele Fitto, during a press conference of the opposition in the Comune of Canosa in Puglia. Silvestri displayed what he said was the judicial act requesting an extension of the investigation, in which eight other people have also been probed.  The video of the press conference has since been removed from Facebook. 

  In February, Ventola received a notice of extension of the investigation, and that the inquest  would open “in due course” by the prosecutor’s office of Trani, based on a complaint from Silvestri’s own office, the sources said.

  “I note that for the second time Andrea Silvestri has held a press conference with the intent of slanderously slinging mud on my person and on the municipal administration of Canosa.”

   Ventola denied that he is under investigation. “We have denounced Silvestri for the slanderous and false declarations and we are now also attentively sifting through the most recent divulgations, in order to give them similar judicial treatment.”

  Ventola also noted in his counterattack that Silvestri “is a politician whose judicial records range from criminal conspiracy, to embezzlement, to material falsity, to ideological falsity, and fraud, offences for which he was arrested and, on some counts, convicted.”

  Silvestri responded to the attack, remarking that Ventola was referencing “proceedings from more than 20 years ago, for which I took a plea bargain: now I am a citizen and a freelancer, and my issues with the justice system were resolved at the time.”