Oct 27, 2014 12:58 PM

Protests in Italy on president's secret testimony

The Associated Press

ROME (AP) Calls are mounting for Italy's president to allow the public to hear his testimony in the trial of a former government official accused of negotiating with Mafia bosses to end terror bombings in the 1990s.

President Giorgio Napolitano, 89, is to testify behind closed doors Tuesday when the trial moves from Palermo to Rome for the day. Journalists and opposition politicians on Monday demanded that the media, including live TV, be allowed to cover Napolitano's testimony.

The Palermo court is trying former Interior Minister Nicola Mancino for allegedly negotiating with the Mafia following the 1993 bombings of churches in Rome, the Uffizi museum in Florence and a Milan park. Mancino has denied any negotiations.

Former Cosa Nostra "boss of bosses," Salvator Riina and other imprisoned mob bosses have been convicted in previous trials of ordering the terror bombings. Prosecutors and lawyers for Riina want to question Napolitano.

Napolitano has said he knows nothing about the alleged negotiations.

The investigation includes an intercepted phone call that revealed that Mancino asked a now-deceased aide to Napolitano if there was any way to avoid a trial.

Riina was captured in Palermo in January 1993 after decades on the run. He was netted in a crackdown on the Mafia following twin bombings in Sicily in 1992 that killed Italy's top anti-Mafia prosecutors, Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino.

Prosecutors alleged that after the 1993 bombings on the mainland, government officials sought to cut a deal with Mafia bosses, purportedly promising more lenient prison conditions in exchange for calling off the bombing campaign.

Senate vice-president Maurizio Gasparri urged Napolitano to heed a front-page appeal by the Corriere della Sera, a leading Italian daily, to testify live to avoid any doubts about the reputation of his office.


Follow Frances D'Emilio on twitter at www.twitter.com/fdemilio


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