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Italy’s Salvini Faces Probe Over Use Of Service Planes

Channels Television  
Updated December 12, 2019
Leader of Italy’s far-right League party Matteo Salvini gives a speech during a congress of the far-right ‘Identity and Democracy’ European Parliament group, organized by Flemish far-right party Vlaams Belang, on December 2, 2019 in Antwerp. DIRK WAEM / BELGA / AFP

 

The head of Italy’s far-right League, Matteo Salvini, could be investigated for the alleged unauthorised use of official planes for party business while a cabinet minister, Italian media reported Thursday.

The state prosecutor in Rome has sent documents to a tribunal charged with monitoring public finances concerning 35 flights Salvini took while deputy prime minister and interior minister, according to the Corriere della Sera.

The prosecutor has asked the court to determine whether the flights on police and firefighters’ planes and helicopters constituted an abuse of office.

According to a recent investigation by La Repubblica, Salvini often scheduled official state trips within Italy just before or after rallies for the League.

“I can’t wait to go in front of the courts,” Salvini said when asked about the report at a news conference on Thursday. On Twitter he wrote: “The more we’re attacked, the more we move forward, a smile on our lips.”

The prosecutor’s office did not immediately respond to a request for confirmation.

Italy’s audit court had earlier opened, then shelved in September, an investigation on financial grounds, arguing that the cost of the trips did not appear to be higher than what would normally have been authorised.

Still, the court considered the flights illegal because Italian law stipulates that police and firefighting aircraft should be used exclusively for institutional use and not by state ministers.

Only the five highest members of state — the president, the two parliament speakers, the prime minister and the head of the constitutional court — are legally allowed to use such aircraft.

Exceptions most be specially authorised, which was not the case for Salvini.

Salvini is currently embroiled in other judicial affairs, including alleged links between the League and Russia, and a decades-long corruption scandal involving the party, for which a court has confiscated 49 million euros ($54 million).

AFP












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