Rome, October 23 - Rodolfo Sabelli, the head of the national association of magistrates (ANM), opened the union's congress in Bari on Friday by launching a stinging attack on the Italian political world. Among other things, Sabelli accused the nation's political class of delegitimizing the judiciary and said it paid more attention to investigators' use of wiretaps than to the problem of defeating the mafia. "The wiretaps issue has become so central that it gets more attention than structural problems and endemic criminal phenomena," Sabelli said at the congress, which President Sergio Mattarella attended. There are frequently calls for investigators' use of wiretaps to be reined in as the details of them sometimes get leaked to the press, often embarrassing people who are not implicated in the probes. David Ermini, the justice pointman for Premier Matteo Renzi's Democratic Party (PD), said these comments were "ungenerous". "We have to be careful not to create confusion," Ermini said. "Up to now, neither the government, nor parliament, has put its hands on the wiretap system. "That's why some comments about the political world not being attentive appear ungenerous". Sabelli also suggested some politicians wanted to dent the judiciary's credibility. The ANM has clashed with Premier Matteo Renzi's executive over its justice reforms, including changes to magistrates' holidays. In the past there were high-voltage rows between the judiciary and three-time premier Silvio Berlusconi, who repeatedly blamed politically motivated leftwing elements in the judiciary for being behind criminal cases against him. "The dynamics are less inflamed but more complex," Sabelli said, complaining of a "conscious strategy of delegitimization" depicting the ANM as a "corporation defending its privileges". Sabelli blasted government efforts to bolster the fight against rampant corruption too. Italy's political class has been hit by a long series of corruption scandals, with new cases cropping up virtually on a weekly basis. He said the "timid" legislative interventions on graft were "inconsistent" with the decision to increase the punishments for some common crimes. He said this smacked of "yielding to superficial appetites for justice". He described a government bill extending the statute of limitations on some felonies, including corruption ones, as "disappointing". He also warned that it was wrong to think that reducing prosecutors' powers in the economic sphere could help growth. "Subordinating politics and justice to economic power is dangerous," he said. Justice Minister Andrea Orlando chimed in later in the day with conciliatory remarks, telling ANSA that Sabelli's comments probably weren't aimed at government. "I believe the criticism is not aimed at government or parliament," he said. "Measures against organized crime...are either approved already, or much further ahead in the process than wiretaps measures".
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