'Ndrangheta-linked Lombardy councillor trial asked

Zambetti denies charges of buying votes from Calabrian Mob

'Ndrangheta-linked Lombardy councillor trial asked

Milan, March 11 - Milan prosecutors have asked for an "immediate" trial for former Lombardy regional councillor Domenico Zambetti on charges of buying votes from the Calabrian-based 'Ndrangheta mafia, judicial sources said Monday. Prosecutors requested indictments for 17 others in a case probing the 'Ndrangheta's suspected penetration of Lombardy politics. Indictments were sought for three alleged 'Ndrangheta bosses, Eugenio Costantino, Alessandro Gugliotta and Vincenzo Evolo. Prosecutors claim Zambetti got 4,000 votes from 'Ndrangheta in exchange for 200,000 euros and several jobs as well as contract promises. Zambetti denies the charges and claims the mafia forced him to make payments and promise favours. The Lombardy government was hit by a wave of scandals last year which forced Roberto Formigoni of ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi's People of FReedom (PdL) party to step down as governor. The PdL's ally, the populist Northern League, was also struck by a scandal involving associates and relatives of former charismatic leader Umberto Bossi, who was also forced to quit. Despite this, Bossi's successor Roberto Maroni was elected Lombardy governor last month and the Pdl-League alliance won the region comfortably in the general election, contributing to the current deadlock in the Senate where no one has a majority. The PdL governor in Lazio, Renata Polverini, also resigned after a wave of scandals and was succeeded by Nicola Zingaretti of the centre-left Democratic Party in last month's vote.

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