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Italian justice minister 'ready to resign if called to'

But Cancellieri remains defiant before Senate grilling

04 November, 19:33
Italian justice minister 'ready to resign if called to' (ANSA) - Strasbourg, November 4 - Italian Justice Minister Anna Maria Cancellieri said Monday she was ready to resign "if the country asks her to" but remained defiant following a furore for allegedly interfering in a fraud case.

"I'm only interested in the truth emerging. Then politics can take its course, but not by taking advantage of me," she said at a press conference, a day before she is scheduled answer before the Senate. The case regards Giulia Ligresti, a member of a major Italian business dynasty who was arrested along with her sister Ionella in July for alleged involvement in cooking the books at the Fonsai insurance group.

Her father Salvatore Ligresti, the family patriarch and former honorary chairman of Fonsai, was put under house arrest along with two former executives from the insurance company.

The anti-establishment 5-Star Movement (M5S) has called on Cancellieri to quit after she admitted calling judicial authorities about the case before Giulia Ligresti was released from jail and put under house arrest in August.

Cancellieri, who is not aligned to a political party, said the call was merely a "humanitarian intervention" to make the authorities aware that Giulia Ligresti suffered from anorexia and depression.

The minister is also under pressure for reportedly calling Salvatore Ligresti's partner, a long-standing friend, to offer support after the arrests.

The M5S alleged that this is a case of people with friends in high places receiving better treatment from the justice system than ordinary people.

Cancellieri's son, Piergiorgio Peluso, is a former manager at the insurance group.

The Ligresti fraud case is set to start next month.

But Giulia Ligresti will not be on trial as she bargained a reduced sentence in September, and had been ordered to serve two years and eight months in custody, plus a 20,000-euro fine.

She may be able to arrange community service rather than actual jail time.

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