Although he’s still under instigation for his role in the massive Venice MOSE flood barrier corruption affair, Venice mayor Giorgio Orsoni was freed last week. He promptly waltzed back into his mayoral office.
A couple of days after saying he would not resign as mayor of Venice, Orsoni did just that, albeit highly reluctantly. According to Italian newspaper La Repubblica he only did so after being pressurized into it by high ranking members of Italy’s Partito Democratico (PD) party, to which the ex-mayor still appears to belong. In times gone by, Italy’s politicians would have closed ranks and Mayor Orsoni would have most probably remained mayor of Venice. At the end of his term, in ‘payment’ for services rendered, he would then have been given a cushy place in Italy’s senate or parliament in order to protect him from the long arm of Italian law.
In Italy, one is, rightly, presumed innocent until found guilty, only it takes so long for Italy’s courts to find those accused of crimes guilty, they can remain in positions of power for years, literally.
Sometimes, court cases in Italy are extinguished by time barring provisions which tend to favour wrongdoers, especially if they are well-to-do. Time limits, which are generally linked to the length of prison sentences in Italy, begin from the date a crime is committed, not from when a crime is discovered.
With while collar crimes such as corruption, it can take years for crimes to be discovered. Indeed, the MOSE project started in 2003 but investigations into illicit goings on did not begin until 2009 – 7 years after the project, and possibly the corruption, commenced. Orsoni was arrested this year – 2014 – 11 years after MOSE works began.
The corrupt can remain in power for years in Italy and can continue to milk the system for all its worth. This time though, Orsoni, a lawyer, won’t be protected by Italy’s overly just justice system.
Let’s hope, for the sake of Italy, this trend in forcing those accused of serious crimes to resign, continues.
Incidentally, Orsoni has as good as admitted his guilt and is plea bargaining his way to a much lighter sentence – reportedly a somewhere between 4 and 9 months. Even so, it is highly unlikely he’ll ever see the inside of a prison for any just length of time. like a certain ex-prime minister of Italy, he’ll probably end up working for a couple of hours a week at a Venice home for the elderly.
Orsoni photograph by www.comune.venezia.it