di Fausto Cicciò
Rome, February 19 - Roberto Maroni, the center-right candidate for governor of Lombardy in upcoming elections, on Tuesday said a police report that pointed to presumed bribes paid by defense contractor Finmeccanica to Maroni's Northern League (Lega Nord) party was bogus. Speaking at a forum hosted by ANSA in Rome Tuesday, Maroni - whose party is allied with Silvio Berlusconi's People of Freedom party (PdL) in national elections to be held Sunday and Monday - said that a report by the Carabinieri police contained "insinuations and falsehoods". Maroni pointed out that the arrest warrant issued last week for former Finmeccanica chief executive Giuseppe Orsi, accused of paying bribes in a contract to sell helicopters to India, does not contain any reference to bribes paid to the party. Orsi's appointment to lead the Italian defense group - which sells military hardware and defense electronics, among other businesses - was heavily endorsed by the Northern League. The fact that prosecutors have thus far excluded in their reports any mention of bribes paid to the League "means (they) have excluded that these things have any basis," Maroni said. Maroni had earlier tied the accusations to the political campaign underway. "The constant of this electoral campaign is the mud-slinging machine which has hit, hits and continues to hit. There are still insinuations of bribes or (illegal) financing of the League tied to the Orsi-Finmeccanica issue". "It's an act of terrorism," Maroni said, referring to the accusations.