Rome Mayor Acquitted on Lying Charge, to Relief of Five Star Movement

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Rome Mayor Acquitted on Lying Charge, to Relief of Five Star Movement


ROME — Rome’s embattled mayor was acquitted on Saturday of charges of lying about a city hall appointment, a case that threatened her career as well as the credibility of the anti-establishment Five Star Movement she represents.

A judge found that no crime had been committed when the mayor, Virginia Raggi, appointed the brother of her top aide to a prestigious tourism position at the beginning of her tenure in 2016.

“This sentence wipes away two years of political mud,” Ms. Raggi told reporters outside Rome’s court. “I am going ahead with our heads high for Rome, my beloved city, and all residents.”

Prosecutors had sought a 10-month prison term on charges that Ms. Raggi had lied to anti-corruption officials when they questioned her about the appointment. Ms. Raggi said that the choice was hers alone, while prosecutors argued that it had been orchestrated by her aide.

Had Ms. Raggi been convicted, she would have faced the loss of her position as mayor. Under the Five Star Movement’s rules, no member convicted of a crime may stay in office, even pending appeal.

The verdict was saluted as a victory by Luigi Di Maio, Italy’s vice prime minister and the political leader of the Five Star Movement, which governs in an increasingly tense coalition with the anti-immigrant League of Matteo Salvini.

“Happy to always have defended you, and always believed in you,” Mr. Di Maio wrote in a blog post on the Movement’s website.

“The real plague of this country is the vast majority of intellectually and morally corrupt media,” Mr. Di Maio added.

Such journalists were trying to topple the government, he said, with the specific strategy of “glorifying the League and always butchering the Movement.”



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