Italian mayor, lawyer arrested in graft probe

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Lodi (Italy), May 3 (IANS/AKI) Italian finance police on Tuesday arrested Simone Uggetti, mayor of the northern city of Lodi, on suspicion of rigging bids for public swimming pools.

A lawyer in Lodi was also arrested in the corruption probe.

Police searched offices at the city council in Lodi, in the Lombardy region, and impounded documents on Tuesday as part of the investigation.

Uggetti, from the ruling centre-left Democratic Party of Premier Matteo Renzi, and the unnamed lawyer, are accused of rigging public tenders for an open-air and an indoor pool, according to investigators.

Both Uggetti and the lawyer are being held in prison since their arrest due to the risk they could tamper with evidence in the case, police said.

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In Uggetti’s arrest warrant, investigating judge Cristiano Marino described his tenure as “completely arbitrary and overweening”.

Uggetti had “broken the law” and “violated his political mandate to nurture the public good,” Marino said.

Lodi city council said on Tuesday it had suspended Uggetti from his post and appointed Deputy Mayor Simonetta Pozzoli to carry out his duties.

However, the current deputy leader of the Democratic Party and former mayor of Lodi Lorenzo Guerini described Uggetti as “upright and transparent”.

“I have complete faith that investigating magistrates will clear things up as fast as possible,” Guerini said.

The judicial probe began in March after a local official reported Uggetti for pressuring Lodi city council insistently to award contracts to build the two pools to a private firm, ‘Sporting Lodi’.

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Uggetti, 42, was elected in mayor of Lodi in June 2013 with 53.62 percent of votes. He served as environment, urban planning, sustainable transport and productive activities councillor in Guerini’s two previous administrations.



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