Twenty people face being ordered to stand trial for alleged corruption amid the scandal surrounding the development of the new stadium for Italian Serie A football club AS Roma.
The development comes as prosecutors in Rome yesterday (Tuesday) concluded their investigation into the matter, which was first triggered five months ago. In June, Roma maintained its Stadio della Roma project would proceed as planned, despite nine arrests in the Italian capital connected to the corruption probe.
At the time, a total of 16 people were said to be under investigation as prosecutors looked into alleged corrupt acts committed during a revision of the original stadium plan, which was approved in February 2017. Investigators had said that neither Mayor Virginia Raggi or Roma were under suspicion.
Italian news agency ANSA said the stadium’s main contractor, Luca Parnasi, is one of the key figureheads likely to face trial with prosecutors alleging that he led a network that committed a “series of felonies against public governance in order to maintain decisions favourable to the building of Roma’s stadium and other projects.”
Others implicated include Luca Lanzalone, the former president of Rome’s energy supplier ACEA; Andrea Palozzi, former vice-president of the Lazio region which encompasses Rome; Michele Civita, the region’s official handling local development; and Francesco Prosperetti, Rome’s top cultural official. Prosperetti is said to have “abused his status and his powers as a public official” in the administrative procedure linked to the new stadium.
Prosecutors allege that payments were made illegally in cash, with invoices issued for non-existent job hires and consulting work. Other likely charges include criminal association and illegal financing. Tuesday’s notice of the conclusion of investigations usually precedes a request for indictment. All of the accused deny wrongdoing.
Roma’s American president, James Pallotta, first unveiled the latest stadium plan in March 2014, with a goal of completion by the 2016-17 season. However, work has yet to commence and Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport yesterday reported that environmental body Codacons filed a further appeal against the stadium project to the Lazio Regional Administrative Court.
This came on the back of yesterday’s developments, with Codacons seeking cancellation of the stadium project on the basis of the alleged criminal acts associated with it. Codacons said: “In short, the judges of the TAR will rule on the request for suspension of the administrative procedure for the construction of the stadium. Roma, in the meantime, would do better to look for a new site for the construction… which is more useful to fans and citizens.”
In December, Roma’s stadium plans were given the green light by the city and region’s four main governing bodies, paving the way for the club to begin working on the project. Roma Capitale, the Metropolitan City, the Region of Lazio and the government gave the project the go-ahead on December 5.
Since the Stadio della Roma project was first put forward in February 2012, it has been beset by delays at government level. However, the Rome City Council in June 2017 approved a resolution that the project was in the public interest after alterations were made to the initial plan.
The 52,500-capacity stadium will serve as the hub of the wide-ranging Stadio della Roma-Tor di Valle project, which will also feature a training complex, entertainment areas, bars and restaurants. Roma hopes to move into the stadium in time for the 2020-21 season.
Image: AS Roma