Rome

M5S suspends three MPs, one activist in fake signatures case

Thirteen M5Sers probed in Palermo, four in Bologna

M5S suspends three MPs, one activist in fake signatures case

Rome, November 26 - The populist, euroskeptic 5-Star Movement late last night suspended three of its MPs and one activist who are under investigation for tampering with citizen signatures on electoral lists in support of M5S candidates in Palermo local elections. The anti-corruption Movement suspended Lower House MPs Giulia Di Vita, Claudia Mannino, and Riccardo Nuti as well as activist Samanta Busalacchi because they damaged the party's image in refusing to suspend themselves even though they are officially under investigation. The Movement will assess what disciplinary action to take once legal proceedings against the suspects are complete, the M5S said on the blog of its leader and founder, comedian Beppe Grillo. Palermo prosecutors on Monday added another three suspects to their list of 10 M5S members being investigated for faking and cloning citizen signatures in 2012 local elections. The new suspects were named as Di Vita, Pietro Savino, who is married to Lower House MP Claudia Mannino, and Riccardo Ricciardi, husband to MP Loredana Lupo. Lupo has been questioned as someone with knowledge relevant to the case, but is not presently under investigation. Ricciardi is thought to be the person who physically deposited the electoral lists with the fake signatures in city court. Mannino invoked her right to remain silent under questioning by prosecutors on Monday, and also refused to give a handwriting sample. Her husband did the same. A total of three of the suspects have so far declined to answer prosecutors. M5S activist Alice Pantaleone did reply to prosectors and has reportedly denied being present at M5S campaign headquarters when the signatures were copied over in 2012. The other M5S suspects in the Palermo case are Nuti, Sicilian regional councillors Giorgio Ciaccio and Claudia La Rocca, activists usalacchi, Giuseppe Ippolito, Stefano Paradiso and Francesco Menallo, court clerk Giovanni Scarpello, and another person who allegedly had a minor role in the case. Police in Bologna said last week that four people are under investigation there in relation to irregularities in the collection of signatures to support an M5S electoral list for regional elections in 2014. Among them is Marco Piazza, the deputy chair of the Emilian capital's city council, who is being probed in his capacity as 'certifier' together with an aide and two others.

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