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Marrazzo resigns after sex scandal

Lazio president says 'extreme suffering' led to decision

28 October, 13:19

(ANSA) - Rome, October 27 - Lazio Region President Piero Marrazzo handed in his resignation on Tuesday in the wake of a sex scandal which rocked the political establishment last week.

''As a result of my extreme suffering, I am no longer useful to the citizens of Lazio,'' the former president said in an open letter to his staff.

''I have always worked for the good of the community and hope that I will be recognized for it regardless of my personal errors''.

Marrazzo, of the opposition Democratic Party (PD), became the subject of a sex scandal last Friday amid a probe into charges that four Carabinieri police had blackmailed him over a video showing him with a transsexual prostitute. On Tuesday, Deputy President Esterino Montino expressed concern for Marrazzo's health and said he was in ''worrying condition''.

Montino said Marrazzo made the decision ''to cut all ties with his political life'' in the hopes of putting the scandal behind him.

On Monday, Marrazzo checked into a Rome hospital where he was diagnosed with acute stress and ordered to take a month's rest. His lawyer, Luca Petrucci, told reporters that the former president had gone to a religious retreat near the capital to recuperate.

He was forced to change locations, however, as his original retreat, the Abbey of Montecassino southeast of Rome, was besieged by an army of reporters.

Marrazo had initially suspended himself from office and appointed Montino to oversee the region's administration in his stead.

The PD leadership hoped that Marrazzo would postpone his resignation until December, which would have avoided a snap election and given the PD time to find a replacement candidate for the regional elections next March.

However, center-right MPs argued that Lazio had no provision allowing the delegation of power to deputies and clamored for an early vote.

Marrazzo's resignation means that elections in Lazio could now be held on March 9, but since regional elections are scheduled to take place in several Italian regions on March 28, many MPs urged the government to take that into consideration.

Meanwhile, prosecutors probing the case against the Carabinieri who blackmailed Marrazzo said the former president was not under investigation. Marazzo, 51, a former TV journalist for state broadcasting corporation RAI, won the Lazio regional elections in 2005.

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