Rome mayor faces threats from mobsters

Rome mayor faces threats from mobsters
5 December 2014

Rome's mayor Ignazio Marino talks during a press conference at the Foreign Press Club in Rome, Friday, Dec. 5, 2014. Marino told reporters Friday he'd decide soon on new security measures after local mobsters said in intercepted phone conversations he needed to be eliminated or chased out of office. They complained he was an obstacle to a well-oiled system of payoffs to win contracts for refugee centers and other municipal activities. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

ROME (AP) -- Rome's mayor is weighing whether to stop using a bicycle and accept a limousine escort from police after threats from mobsters allegedly in cahoots with city politicians over lucrative municipal contracts.

Mayor Ignazio Marino told reporters Friday he would decide soon on security after local mobsters were heard in intercepted phone conversations saying he needed to be gotten rid of or forced out of office. They branded him an obstacle to a well-oiled system to win contracts to service refugee centers, Roma camps and other operations.

Police arrested 37 people this week, including a reputed mobster with roots in far-right domestic terrorism, and notified former Rome Mayor Gianni Alemanno and dozens others they were being investigated for suspected mafia-like ties and corruption.

Marino, a transplant surgeon who joined politics several years ago, won a 2013 election, defeating the formerly neo-fascist Alemanno, who denies wrongdoing. To cut costs as mayor, Marino declined to have the standard dark blue limo that has become a symbol of political arrogance and aloofness. `'I'm basically against an escort," Marino said. `'There are 1,000" politicians in Rome with escorts, but `'I don't think 1,000 people are in danger for their lives. It's more of a convenience, having someone wait to drive them around." He said Rome's top security official took him aside Thursday to urge him to stop cycling through city streets.

Marino noted that the intercepted suspects said that since they can't corrupt him, he needs to be driven from office. He recently rebuffed calls, including from fellow Democrats, to resign over his failure to immediately pay traffic fines.

Much of the alleged corruption occurred during Alemanno's administration, but a few Democrats currently in city government were also put under probe.

Source: AP.