ROME – The president of Rome’s City Council, a member of the Five Star Movement which rules in coalition with the far-right Lega party, has been arrested on alleged corruption charges including the construction of a new football stadium, the Italian deputy prime minister and leader of the M5S said in a statement on Wednesday.
Marcello De Vito was arrested with three other people as part of an ongoing investigation which Italian media have said revealed the president of the assembly allegedly received a bribe from Luca Parnasi, a businessman who was already under arrest and who was the owner of the land where the stadium was to have been built.
“Marcello De Vito is out of the 5 Star Movement,” Luigi di Maio, Italian deputy prime minister said on social media. “I take responsibility for this decision as a political leader and I have already communicated it to the arbiters.”
“What emerges in these hours as well as being serious is shameful, morally low and represents an insult to each of us, to every spokesman of the Movimento in the institutions, to every activist who has been working hard every day for this project,” Di Maio’s statement continued.
Members of the Democratic Party (PD) have also requested the resignation of Rome’s Mayor, who also belongs to the M5S, Virginia Raggi.
According to Rome prosecutors, Barbara Zuin and Luigia Spinelli, De Vito was also being investigated for the rezoning for real estate redevelopment purposes of the former general market complex, built in the 1990s but now in a state of decay, and the construction of a hotel in what used to be the railway station of the Trastevere neighborhood in downtown Rome.
Italian media have published the transcripts of conversations that took place between Vito and his lawyer Camillo Mezzacapo on Feb. 9, after their phones were tapped as part of investigations.
Mezzacapo allegedly advised Vito “to make the most of this because it was unlikely to happen again,” and that they had “around two years.”
In June last year, nine people were arrested on corruption charges in relation to the building of a new stadium in Rome.
Among those arrested were the chairman of the energy and water supply company Acea, Luca Lanzalone, the owner of construction company Eurnova, Luca Parnasi, and his collaborators Luca Caporilli, Simone Contasta, Naboor Zaffiri, Gianluca Talone and Gianluca Mangosi.
According to prosecutors the corruption network also involved members of high profile construction companies, and politicians from M5S, Forza Italia, PD and civil servants from the Rome Town Hall.