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Cancellieri probed for perjury in Ligresti testimony

Lawyer says case into ex-justice minister about to close

12 March, 12:03
Cancellieri probed for perjury in Ligresti testimony (ANSA) - Rome, March 12 - Former justice minister Anna Maria Cancellieri is under investigation for perjury during an ongoing probe into former insurance magnate Salvatore Ligresti, accused of acquiring illegal dividends of 200 million euros. The case opened by Rome prosecutors, which was the cover story of several major Italian dailies Wednesday, regards contact she made with Salvatore's brother Antonino Ligresti, a medical doctor who has been consulted often by Cancellieri over family medical issues.

In November, Cancellieri survived a no-confidence vote in parliament for alleged involvement in the corruption case involving family friends.

Earlier that month she admitted in parliament to calling authorities regarding Giulia Ligresti, a member of the dynasty headed by Salvatore Ligresti.

Salvatore and Giulia Ligresti, along with another daughter Jonella, were arrested in July 2013 for alleged involvement in cooking the books at the Fonsai insurance group.

Cancellieri denied influencing Giulia's release from jail to house arrest, and insisted she only intervened to look after her health, as the woman had a history of depression and anorexia.

The former minister, who served under both Enrico Letta and Mario Monti, subsequently said she had made similar "humanitarian" calls in 110 other cases.

Prosecutors have said Cancellieri's interventions had no influence on Giulia Ligresti's release to house arrest, but the pressure on the minister increased after fresh reports of phone conversations with the Ligresti family, including Antonino Ligresti, emerged.

The minister said she regularly called Antonino about family medical problems.

But Cancellieri's critics have said it is a case of people with friends in high places receiving better treatment from the Italian justice system than ordinary people.

Meanwhile, Salvatore Ligresti was also released from house arrest in December and Jonella Ligresti downgraded to house arrest in November.

But his legal woes continue. Last week Milan prosecutors sought to indict him on accounting fraud and market manipulation charges. As for Cancellieri, her lawyers insisted Wednesday that a request by prosecutors to close the perjury investigation is awaiting a judge's approval.