Political scandals pile up in Italy, but Andreotti manages to survive
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Andreotti's name has come up during the current investigations of the Mafia in Sicily. Many of Sicily's Christian Democratic politicians who have been found to have connections with the Mafia had long supported Andreotti.Skip to next paragraph
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The other political scandals sweeping over Italy seem endless. The case involving Ciro Cirillo, the secretary of the Christian Democratic Party of Naples who was held - and later released - by the terrorist Red Brigades in the spring of 1981, is being heard in the Senate. It has been charged that the Christian Democrats made a secret payoff for Cirillo's release, and that the Italian secret service organization, Sismi, was involved.
The Sismi is also in the news because one of its former officers has admitted the organization's involvement in the 1980 bombing of the railroad station in Bologna, which killed 83 people.
In addition, a select nucleus within the Sismi, known as Superesse, was a key element in the secret Masonic/political organization Propaganda 2 (P2), which was uncovered in 1981.
According to recent accusations, the Superesse was involved in operations concerning the Pope, Palestine Liberation Organization chief Yasser Arafat, party secretary Cirillo, and the Mafia. The Superesse apparently also had dealings with financier Roberto Calvi of the failed Banco Ambrosiano, whose death in London in 1982 has yet to be explained.
Then there is the almost universal conviction that there are links between the Mafia and the government. Vito Ciancimino, a former Christian Democratic mayor of Palermo (and at one time Italy's representative to the European Community in Brussels), was arrested Nov. 4 and taken to a prison in Rome. He was charged with links to the Mafia and with having transferred millions of dollars to Canada. It is also widely believed that two other leading members of the Christian Democratic Party in Sicily, Salvo Lima and Luigi Gioia, have been in the pay of the Mafia for a number of years.
Scandals also abound on a local level. Usually involving accusations of corruption, collusion, or the siphoning off of government funds, these incidents often have national repercussions. For example, a recent news item noted the arrest of a captain of the Carabinieri in the Sicilian town of Trapani on charges of ''corruption and conflict of interests.'' This man had reportedly detained, then released, the accused killer of Gen. Carlo Alberto Dalla Chiesa, who headed a police crackdown on the Mafia in 1982. The captain's arrest will raise more questions about links between the Mafia and local governments in Sicily.
Italian politics has been soiled by scandals for many years. The current deluge of accusations and revelations is nothing new. But the hope has been voiced here in Rome that this time may be different.
The courage and tenacity of the Sicilian magistrates who have been carrying on a highly dangerous war against the Mafia with remarkable success may have inspired others to greater efforts toward uncovering corruption and crime. The long-prevailing attitude of cynicism and distrust of authority may have reached the boiling point.
Everyone seems to be in agreement that a cleansing is essential if the Italian democratic system is to survive.