Rome

Ex-Lazio governor testifies against cops in blackmail case

Marrazzo recounts 'scary night' with transsexual, cocaine

Ex-Lazio governor testifies against cops in blackmail case

Rome, May 28 - Disgraced former Lazio governor Piero Marrazzo testified for the first time Tuesday in the case against four rogue cops on trial for attempting to blackmail him with a video showing him with a transsexual sex worker in a bedroom with cocaine. "The past four years have been very difficult," he told a Rome court. "My family and my personal and professional dignity have suffered". Marrazzo, who resigned in the wake of the scandal that rocked the political establishment in 2009, went on to separate from his wife after reports surfaced that two of the four accused Carabinieri police officers broke into an apartment that July, found Marrazzo with a transsexual, and took the contents of the official's wallet. "I was really scared that night," said the center-left politician and former TV journalist. "I realized I had made the biggest mistake of my life. I was subjected by those two plain-clothes officers to very severe psychological violence. I wanted out of that house at all costs but I was not even allowed to get dressed. I did not realize they were shooting a video with the phone". Investigators have said it was unclear whether the Carabinieri had filmed the encounter or whether, as the policemen claimed, they had seized the video from a second transsexual allegedly present. The four reportedly unsuccessfully touted the video to the Italian press before deciding to blackmail Marrazzo. "I learned of the video when Silvio Berlusconi called to tell me that a director of the Mondadori group (owned by the three-time premier) had seen a video that concerned me and it was unusable because the content was unclear," said Marrazzo. "Then, after maybe one day, Berlusconi called me back saying that the video had been apprehended by ROS anti-mafia and anti-terrorism police and that everything was okay. He wanted to reassure me". Marazzo reportedly paid the four some 50,000 euros and gave them cheques, never cashed, for 30,000 euros more. He admitted Tuesday to "sporadic encounters with transsexuals I can count on one hand" and to "consuming cocaine that I certainly did not bring myself". He denied using his official car "for these types of encounters, nor have I ever brought transsexuals in the offices of the region". The alleged ring-leader of the blackmail case, Nicola Testini, has been linked to the 2009 death of Rome pusher Gianguerino Cafasso, who allegedly supplied some cocaine which appeared in the Marrazzo video. But a court in 2010 ruled there was no evidence Cafasso was murdered after forensic tests indicated that he died of a pre-existing heart condition and not a 'spiked' cocktail of heroin and cocaine. A second person linked to the Marrazzo case, a transsexual prostitute known as Brenda, also died in 2009, apparently of smoke inhalation in her flat after a fire. Police said they suspected foul play but did not open a murder probe. Brenda was one of several prostitutes Marrazzo reportedly admitted to having frequented, although he said he could not provide a fully reliable account because of the cocaine he took.

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