Calls for Rome's mayor to resign over scandal

Opposition protesters in Rome called on the centre-left mayor Ignazio Marino to resign along with his administration over a scandal that has laid bare an entrenched system of corruption in the Italian capital.

Prosecutors believe a network of unscrupulous businessmen, corrupt local politicians and criminals linked to extremist far-right movements colluded to rig public contracts in Rome for many years.

The widening "Capital Mafia" investigation has piled pressure on Marino, a member of Prime Minister Matteo Renzi's centre-left Democratic Party (PD) who was elected two years ago. So far he has rejected calls to step down.

Police held back a crowd of protesters from the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement and the far-right CasaPound group shouting "Resign!" and "Get out, mafiosi!" as the city administration met behind closed doors to vote on replacing a number of councillors arrested in the scandal.

PD officials dismissed the demonstration as "Neofascism on live TV."

Earlier on Tuesday (local time) police arrested five people, including a senior city official accused of helping a businessman implicated in the case to win public contracts.

Among the suspect contracts was one to restore the ornate room in the Rome city hall where the council voted on Tuesday.

Tuesday's arrests followed more than 40 last week and a similar number last year, all connected to the same "Capital Mafia" investigation.

Although the sums so far reported by prosecutors have been relatively modest in comparison with other recent scandals around the Milan Expo or the Venice flood barrier corporation, the case has shone a light on the extent of corruption in the Rome city administration.

Public works contracts to manage waste disposal and recycling sites as well as the reception centres set up to handle the thousands of migrants who have arrived in Italy by boat from Africa have all been targeted.

The people arrested last week are suspected of arranging to ensure that favoured companies linked to cooperative associations won lucrative contracts to manage migrant reception centres in Rome and Sicily.

The case has embarrassed Renzi, who put the local PD party under special administration last year. However it has also implicated politicians from the right, including Marino's predecessor as mayor, Gianni Alemanno, a former far-right activist. 

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