Rome prosecutors are probing Welfare Minister Paolo Ferrero of the Communist Refoundation Party in connection with his controversial nomination of a former Red Brigade terrorist as part of a government advisory panel on drugs.
Ferrero has already annulled the appointment of Susanna Ronconi and the minister himself revealed on Thursday that prosecutors were looking into the nomination which enraged right-wingers in parliament.
Although he had initially defended the choice of Ronconi, he said legal advisors had judged the nomination illegitimate because she has been banned from public office.
Sources at the welfare ministry confirmed on Friday that prosecutors have sent Ferrero formal notice that he is being investigated. Under Italian law this does not necessarily mean he will be prosecuted. The probe aims to establish whether the minister can be charged with abuse of office.
Details of the case have been given to the Tribunal of Ministers, the only body which can carry out full investigations involving members of the government.
Ronconi heads the independent Forum Droghe association, which campaigns for the legalisation of ‘soft’ drugs. She has written several papers on social policy in connection with drugs.
During the 1970s she was part of a Red Brigade group which staged an attack on an office of neo-Fascist MSI party and killed two party members.
Ronconi has expressed bitterness over Ferrero’s decision to strike her from the drugs panel.”I’m being nailed to something that happened 30 years ago and what has happened since then counts for nothing“. Actually, the former terrorist claimed on tuesday she was resigning due to “a bipartisan criticism” over her nomination to the government advisory panel. Now we know it wasn’t exactly so. She resigned because she has been perpetually banned from public office. Therefore, her nomination was illegitimate. Probably Mr.Ferrero was inadvertent when he decided to nominate Ronconi, or probably he was just ignorant about the law. Probably.
Prodi’s government finds very useful to nominate former communist terrorists as government advisors. Considering that, in Italy, communist terrorism appears alive and kicking, in the next few years there will be many new government advisors around…