Italian prosecutors seek political finance trial for Renzi | Region

ROME (AP) — Prosecutors in Florence on Wednesday requested the indictment of former Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi for alleged illegal funding of political parties.

Renzi denied any wrongdoing and, in a tweet, said he had filed a complaint with prosecutors in another region of Italy, alleging that magistrates in Florence abused their power during their investigation of several years on him.

A former leader of the Democratic Party who served as Italy’s prime minister from 2014 to 2016, Renzi is now a senator leading a small centrist party in parliament. He alleges magistrates have been targeting him for years while investigating the funding of a foundation supporting Renzi.

A first hearing on the indictment has been set for April.

Two former government ministers close to Renzi are also being investigated by prosecutors in Florence.

Renzi resigned as prime minister in 2016 after betting on staying in power by winning a referendum on proposed constitutional reforms he had championed. Voters overwhelmingly rejected the reforms. He then broke with the Democratic Party and founded Italia Viva, which is one of the smaller parties in Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s Pandemic Unity Coalition which includes political parties from all walks of life.

In a separate case, Italy’s central bank recently flagged potentially suspicious financial transactions that were paid into an account held by Renzi, Corriere della Sera reported last week. Some 1.1 million euros ($1.25 million) was paid for what Renzi described as legitimate consultancy services provided to Saudi Arabia, the newspaper said.

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Elna M. Lemons