| MILAN, June 4
MILAN, June 4 Venice's mayor was under house
arrest on Wednesday on suspicion of corruption relating to a
5-billion-euro ($6.8-billion) flood barrier project, police
sources said, and a judge has issued warrants for a senior
Italian politician and 33 other people.
The Moses project, designed to save the canal city from
sinking into the lagoon it is built on, was first mooted in 1966
but construction did not start until 2004, due to wrangling over
its design, funding and environmental impact.
The lower house of parliament will have to decide whether to
lift immunity for Giancarlo Galan, a two-time minister and
prominent official in Silvio Berlusconi's Forza Italia party and
former governor of the Veneto region.
It was not immediately clear how many people had been
A spokeswoman for the Venice city government had no
immediate comment, and centre-left mayor Giorgio Orsoni's
spokesman did not respond to phone calls. A spokesman in Galan's
office in parliament said he had no comment.
A media conference has been called by Venice prosecutors for
later in the day.
The cross-party coalition led by Prime Minister Matteo
Renzi, the leader of Italy's biggest centre-left party, has
pledged to clamp down on corruption and clean up politics and
business which have long been marred by graft and scandal.
Seven men were arrested on May 12 on suspicion of bribery in
building contracts for Italy's Expo 2015 world fair - a scandal
reminiscent of the Bribesville investigation that brought down
Italy's ruling elite in the early 1990s.
"These things seem to me to belong to a past that never
passes and that is very damaging to the changes that we want to
make," Sandro Gozi, undersecretary for European affairs,
commented in an interview with RAI state TV.
Prosecutors are investigating defence giant Finmeccanica
and oil services group Saipem for alleged
bribery over international contracts. Both deny any wrongdoing.
Italy ranks 69 out of 177 countries in Transparency
International's corruption index, below most European nations.
The Moses project has long been in the crosshairs of Venice
prosecutors. Last July police arrested seven people suspected of
rigging lucrative contracts for the job.
($1 = 0.7342 euros)
(Additional reporting by Isla Binnie in Rome; Writing by
Stephen Jewkes and Steve Scherer; Editing by Louise Ireland)