Rome

Disgraced ex-member of Berlusconi's party Fiorito arrested

PdL's former Lazio caucus leader accused of embezzlement

Disgraced ex-member of Berlusconi's party Fiorito arrested

(ANSA) - Rome, October 2 - Franco Fiorito, the disgraced former caucus leader of Silvio Berlusconi's People of Freedom party in Lazio, was arrested on Monday on suspicion of embezzling public money. Fiorito was arrested and taken to prison after judges agreed with prosecutors that there was a risk he could reoffend or tamper with evidence. The case, which exploded when Fiorito was put under investigation earlier this month, caused the PdL's Renata Polverini to step down as governor of Lazio last week. Investigators are said to looking at over 800,000 euros of financial transactions linked to Fiorito. The scandal is seen by many as a threat to the centre-right PdL's chances of maintaining its position as the biggest party in parliament in next year's general elections. Ex-premier Berlusconi's party currently trails far behind the main centre-left Democratic Party PD in the polls. This investigation is only one of a series of recent corruption scandals that have hit various parts of Italy's political spectrum, sparking condemnation from Italian President Giorgio Napolitano and the Catholic Church. Experts say the scandals have also strengthened widespread public disaffection with the nation's political class and contributed to the rise of comedian Beppe Grillo's grassroots Five Star movement, which is opposed to the present party system. The Five Star movement is vying with the PdL for second place in the polls, according to some surveys.

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