Fraud Probe Pushes Italian PM to Brink

Ministers turn on each other amid campaign corruption charges
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 23, 2007 6:48 AM CDT
Rome's Mayor Walter Veltroni, right, celebrates next to Italian Premier Romano Prodi after winning the primary vote to leader of a new party and the probable candidate for premier to run against conservative...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Italy's government neared meltdown last night as charges of fraud and embezzlement picked up steam. Prime Minister Romano Prodi and his justice minister are under investigation for diverting funds from the European Union to their own political party in order to shore up support during an election, reports the Guardian. Ministers are trading insults and Prodi's fragile majority is nearing collapse.

Prodi and Justice Minister Clemente Mastella have been accused of trying to derail the investigation with legal technicalities. The head prosecutor told an Italian TV station that the government pressured him to ignore the charges, which led Mastella to call for the resignation of the station's entire board.