GENOA, Italy (Reuters) – A Genoa court found a junior minister from the right-wing League party guilty in an embezzlement case, a verdict set to further ignite tensions within the country’s fractious ruling coalition.
Deputy Transport Minister, Edoardo Rixi was sentenced on Thursday to a prison term of three years and five months.
Rixi was on trial together with 21 other current and former councillors of the northwestern Liguria region accused of fraudulently claiming expenses for private meals and trips from 2010-2012.
Prosecutors alleged that Rixi wrongfully approved the expense claims of his subordinates. Rixi, who can appeal the verdict, has denied wrongdoing.
The 5-Star Movement, which governs with the League and is seeking to regain the initiative following a bruising defeat in European elections, has said that if convicted Rixi should step down. However, League officials have said he should remain in his job.
Reporting by Paola Balsomini, writing by Silvia Aloisi, editing by Giselda Vagnoni