Calabria governor sentenced to six years in jail

Defense 'disappointed' at ruling

(ANSA) - Reggio Calabria, March 28 - Calabria Governor Giuseppe Scopelliti was sentenced to six years in prison and permanently banned from public office late on Thursday. Scopelliti was found guilty of abuse of office and misinformation while serving as mayor of Reggio Calabria in events related to the 2010 suicide of a former finance manager for the city, Orsola Fallaro.
    Fallaro was paid fees of 750,000 euros while working on Reggio's tax commission.
    The ruling is longer than the Prosecutor Sara Ombra's request for five years imprisonment and a five-year ban from office. The case stems from an investigation into Reggio's finances between 2008 to 2010.
    The conviction will have political consequences as Scopelliti will have to step down as governor, even though he can appeal and the conviction is not definitive, because of 2012 anti-corruption law. The court rejected Scopelliti lawyer Aldo Labate's request to show new records that he argued would demonstrate balance- sheet debts were attributable to before Scopelliti's tenure.
    "Denying preconceived evidence limits the rights of the defense", commented Scopelitti's legal advisor Senator Nico D'Ascola, who added that there was "a vacuum of evidence that the prosecutor failed to fill".
    Scopelliti was also ordered to pay a 120,000-euro fine.
    Former auditors Carmelo Stracuzi, Domenico D'Amico and Ruggero De Medici received three-year sentences.
    Upon hearing the sentence, Labate commented: "We are obviously disappointed. We are waiting for the written explanation of the verdict".