Bettino Craxi - Involvement in "Mani Pulite" Scandal

Involvement in "Mani Pulite" Scandal

The last main turning point of Craxi's career began in 1992. In February, Socialist MP Mario Chiesa was arrested by the police while taking a 7 million lira bribe from a cleaning service firm. Mario Chiesa sought Craxi's protection for nearly a month; but Craxi accused him of casting a shadow on the 'most honest party in Italy'.

Feeling emarginated and unjustly singled-out, Chiesa agreed to tell everything he knew to the prosecutors. His revelations brought half of Milan Socialists and Industrialists under investigation. As a consequence, a team of Milanese judges began investigating specifically the party financing system. Milan was then a stronghold of the Italian Socialist Party. At a time, even the city mayor, Paolo Pillitteri, Craxi's own brother-in-law, was investigated although he had immunity as a Member of Parliament.

In July 1992, Craxi finally realised the situation was serious, and that he himself was going to be hit by the unfolding scandal. He made an appeal before the Chamber of Deputies in which he told his fellow deputies that everyone knew of the widespread irreguralities in the public financing of parties, accused them (the deputies) of hypocrisy and cowardice, and finally called for solidarity and protection from prosecution from all MPs to his party. However, his call was ignored. Craxi took 5 more months to realise the full scale of the events, but some important MPs took even longer and by the time they knew, everything was done and they were wiped off the political map and thrown in jail.

Craxi was to receive the first of his many prosecution notices in December 1992. Many more followed next January and February until the Court of Milan explicitly asked Parliament the authorisation to bring Craxi to trial for bribery and corruption (at the time, in Italy MPs were immune from prosecution unless Parliament gave its authorisation). The authorisation was denied on 29 April 1993 after Craxi gave an emotional speech. However, the day wasn't over. He returned to his Roman residence at the Raphael Hotel. A huge crowd assembled in front of the building and when Craxi finally went out, he was met with thousands of coins tossed at him. The outraged people intoned: "Bettino! Do you want even these?!".

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