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Letta says he stands behind beleaguered justice minister

Premier maintains support for Cancellieri despite scandal

15 November, 18:06
Letta says he stands behind beleaguered justice minister (ANSA) - Rome, November 15 - Prime Minister Enrico Letta said Friday that his confidence in his beleaguered justice minister was unshaken.

Following a meeting with Anna Maria Cancellieri, sources said that Letta emerged to say that he continued to support her despite allegations that she meddled in an important fraud case.

Cancellieri faces a confidence vote in parliament next Wednesday over allegations that she asked prison authorities to release Giulia Ligresti from jail and order her instead into house arrest.

Ligresti is a member of a major Italian business dynasty who was arrested in July for alleged involvement in cooking the books at the Fonsai insurance group.

Last week Cancellieri denied those allegations before both houses of parliament. However, on Friday, Italian daily La Repubblica cited leaked police reports which showed Cancellieri and her husband maintained telephone contact with Ligresti's uncle Antonino.

So far Cancellieri had not told parliament she was in touch with the Ligresti family, which has links to hers. The minister's son, Piergiorgio Peluso, is a former manager at the insurance group and received a whopping five-million-euro severance payoff after a short spell there.

In a statement she argued she "never lied to parliament or prosecutors", and said she was merely seeking medical advice from Antonino Ligresti, a doctor, and that she would not resign.