De Magistris 'won't quit' after abuse-of-office conviction

Naples mayor says he is being targeted as part of a plot

(ANSA) - Naples, September 26 - Even as Senate Speaker Pietro Grasso said Friday that the mayor of Naples should be suspended under an anti-corruption law, Luigi De Magistris told his city council that he was being targeted by a plot.
    De Magistris, a former magistrate, received a 15-month suspended sentence on Wednesday for abuse of office while working on a corruption case. Grasso said that as a result, a 2012 anti-corruption law suspending people convicted of certain crimes from public office, should be used in this case.
    "The Severino law should be applied," said Grasso referring to the measure named after former justice minister Paola Severino. "It has been applied to other mayors. I think it's inevitable that it will be applied," added Grasso, a former anti-mafia judge. The case concerns De Magistris's involvement in obtaining the telephone data of some MPs, including former premier Romano Prodi, without the proper authorization.
    He was convicted even though Rome prosecutors in May had asked for the case against him to be dropped. They argued he had only a secondary role in the handling of the related part of the so-called Why Not case in the southern region of Calabria and should therefore be acquitted.
    De Magistris said Friday that the Severino law should not apply to his case as it was approved after the trial against him had started.
    "We are faced with a deeply corrupt State," said De Magistris, suggesting certain forces were working to gain control of the southern Italian city.
    "While the picture appears even more confused, it also appears clearer that they are working to get their hands on the city," he added in comments to Naples city council.
    The mayor, who was applauded by some councilors during his remarks, also said he had no intention of stepping down.
    "They are calling on me to resign because of this conviction, but looking in the mirror, it's those judges (who handed down the conviction) who should quit," the mayor said. "I'm confident that this (local) government (executive) can continue until 2016," he said, adding he intended to serve until the end of his term.
    "I don't think they can wipe out this experience (of local government) with blows landed by judicial technicalities". However, he added, he was a "man of the (public) institutions" and had faith that "the institutions will be able to repair this violation of the law". Rome's Mayor Ignazio Marino said that he respected De Magistris and said he felt badly for his colleague.


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