MANI PULITE (pronounced , Italian for "clean hands") was a nationwide judicial investigation into political corruption in Italy held in the 1990s. Mani pulite led to the demise of the so-called "First Republic ", resulting in the disappearance of many political parties. Some politicians and industry leaders committed suicide after their crimes were exposed. Antonio Di Pietro was the main judicial figure in charge of the operation.
In some accounts, as many as 5,000 public figures fell under suspicion. At one point, more than half of the members of the Italian Parliament were under indictment. More than 400 city and town councils were dissolved because of corruption charges. The estimated value of bribes paid annually in the 1980s by Italian and foreign companies bidding for large government contracts reached 4 billion dollars (6.5 trillion lire).
The corrupt system uncovered by these investigations was usually referred to as Tangentopoli (Italian pronunciation: ). The term derives from tangente, which means kickback and in this context refers to kickbacks given for public works contracts, and poli meaning city; it is thus sometimes translated as "Bribesville" or "Kickback City."
* 1 Arrest of Mario Chiesa * 2 Extension of anti-corruption investigations * 3 Effect on national politics * 4 The Cusani trial * 5 Investigations on other fronts * 6 Escalating conflict between Silvio Berlusconi and Antonio Di Pietro * 7 Statutory term strategy * 8 Lottizzazione * 9 In modern culture * 10 See also * 11 Further reading * 12 References * 13 External links
ARREST OF MARIO CHIESA
Tangentopoli began on 17 February 1992 when judge Antonio Di Pietro
had Mario Chiesa , a member of the
Italian Socialist Party
EXTENSION OF ANTI-CORRUPTION INVESTIGATIONS
In the 1992 elections, the centre-right Christian Democracy (DC) held
on to power when its coalition government kept a small majority, while
leftist opposition parties gained support. However, the Italian
Communist Party split after the fall of the
During April 1992, many industrial figures and politicians from both the government and the opposition were arrested on charges of corruption. While the investigations started in Milan, they quickly spread to other towns as more politicians confessed. One grotesque situation occurred when a Socialist politician immediately confessed to all of his crimes to two Carabinieri who had come to his house, only to later discover that they had come to deliver a mere fine for a traffic violation.
Fundamental to this increased exposure was the general attitude of the main politicians to drop support for subordinates who got caught; this made many of them feel betrayed, and they often implicated many other figures, who in turn would implicate even more. On 2 September 1992, the Socialist politician Sergio Moroni, charged with corruption, committed suicide. He left a letter pleading guilty, declaring that crimes were not for his personal gain but for the party's benefit, and accused the financing system of all the political parties.
EFFECT ON NATIONAL POLITICS
In the local December elections, DC lost half of their votes. The day
On 5 March 1993, the Italian government of
On 25 March 1993, the Italian parliament changed the municipal
electoral law in favor of a majoritarian system. Later, on 18 April,
the public overwhelmingly backed the abrogation of the existing
proportional representation parliamentary electoral law in a
referendum (a mixed system was introduced that August), causing Amato
to resign three days later. Still shocked by the recent events, the
Parliament was unable to produce a new government. Carlo Azeglio
Ciampi , former governor of the national bank, was appointed head of
the government and appointed a technical government without political
influences. In the meantime, the investigation of Craxi was blocked by
the parliament. Several members of the government, having been in
office just three days, resigned in protest; among them were Francesco
Minister of the Environment and
Vincenzo Visco , Minister of
Eventually, all four parties in government in 1992 disappeared, at
different times in different ways: the Christian Democracy , the
Italian Socialist Party
According to the American ambassador Reginald Bartholomew , behind the operation there was the CIA who helped the Italian prosecutors to accuse the politicians.
THE CUSANI TRIAL
Di Pietro during the Cusani trial.
On 20 July 1993, the former Eni president, Gabriele Cagliari, committed suicide in jail. His wife later gave back $3 million of illegal funds.
Meanwhile, the trial of Sergio Cusani began. Mr. Cusani was accused of crimes connected to a joint venture between Eni and Montedison , named Enimont. It was broadcast on national television, and was a sort of showcase of the old politics being brought to their responsibilities. While Cusani himself was not a major figure, the connection of his crimes to the Enimont affair called in all the nation's major politicians as witnesses.
A high note was reached in the Cusani trial when former head of
Arnaldo Forlani , answering a question, simply said "I
don't remember"; he also happened to be very nervous and did not
notice that sweat was accumulating on his lips, and that image was by
many considered symbolic of the people's disgust for the corruption
Even the Lega Nord was implicated in the trial; secretary Umberto Bossi and former treasurer Alessandro Patelli were convicted for receiving 200 million lire of illegal funding (approx. $100,000 at the time).
A bribe to the Italian Communist Party was alleged, but it was not established who had committed the offence. A number of Milanese members of the Democratic Party of the Left were charged with corruption during their time as members of the PCI but they were acquitted. As prosecutor Antonio Di Pietro stated, "Penal responsibility is personal. I cannot bring here a person with first name Communist and last name Party".
The Enimont trial itself was carried out after the Cusani trial, with much less public interest.
INVESTIGATIONS ON OTHER FRONTS
In the meantime, the investigation expanded outside the political
range: on 2 September 1993 the Milan judge Diego Curtò was arrested.
On 21 April 1994, 80 financial policemen and 300 industry
personalities were charged with corruption. A few days later, the
secretary of the large
In 1994, Silvio Berlusconi entered politics by storm and won the elections. Many think that this move was to preserve his many industries from possible corruption charges. This suspicion was reinforced on 11 February, when Silvio Berlusconi 's brother, Paolo, admitted to corruption crimes. On 13 July 1994, the Berlusconi government made a new law to avoid jail time for most corruption crimes.
The law was carefully timed as
Just a few days before, the arrested policemen had been talking about
corruption in the
Since the government could not afford to be seen as an adversary of the popular judge pool, the decree was hastily revoked and marked a "misunderstanding"; minister for internal affairs Roberto Maroni from Lega Nord claimed that he had not even had the chance to read it. While the minister of Justice was Alfredo Biondi , allegations that Cesare Previti , a lawyer from Berlusconi's company Fininvest, had written it, are at least credible.
On 29 July Berlusconi's brother was again arrested and immediately released.
ESCALATING CONFLICT BETWEEN SILVIO BERLUSCONI AND ANTONIO DI PIETRO
At this point there began what has been described by many as the
"Berlusconi-Di Pietro battle". While Berlusconi's industries were
being investigated, "inspectors" were sent from the government to the
Milanese judges' office to look for formal irregularities. None were
ever found, but this tactic, coupled with Berlusconi's firm grip on
the information system, helped spread what is described in other
environments as FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt). The battle ended
without winners: on 6 December Di Pietro resigned. Two weeks later,
During 1995, many investigations were started against Antonio Di
Pietro , who would years later be cleared of all charges, while Silvio
After being cleared,
Antonio Di Pietro went into politics, something
he had previously ruled out on the grounds that he did not want to
exploit the popularity gained doing what he perceived to be just his
duty. His movement is named
Italia dei Valori
Cesare Previti , former manager of
STATUTORY TERM STRATEGY
After 1994, the danger of trials being cancelled due to the
expiration of statutory terms was becoming very real. This was clear
to the judges and to the politicians, and the latter ones (with no
Furthermore, the intricate nature of Italian laws allowed cunning
lawyers to use many delaying tactics: an instructive example was a
Silvio Berlusconi , where he was accused of
misappropriation of funds of his own company,
Silvio Berlusconi 's victory in 2001, public opinion had turned
so far against judges, where it is not only openly acceptable to
criticize judges for having carried out Mani pulite, but also
increasingly difficult to broadcast opinions favorable to Milan's
pool. Some blame
The term lottizzazione, meaning the way a terrain is divided up in minor parts or lotti, came to indicate the procedure of awarding top positions in important state conglomerates such as IRI , ENEL or ENI to political figures, or at least managers with a clear political orientation. This usually trickled down to lower levels, creating power centres depending on political parties that controlled a significant part of the production system. The available seats were usually a