The troubled process surrounding the development of Italian Serie A football club AS Roma’s new stadium has been dealt another blow today (Tuesday) following the arrest of four people, including a senior local politician.

The headline name from the dawn raids is Marcello De Vito, President of the Municipal Council of Rome and effectively second in command to Mayor Virginia Raggi. Italian newspaper La Repubblica said De Vito has been arrested on charges of corruption.

Prosecutors Barbara Zuin and Luigia Spinelli have alleged that De Vito accepted bribes both directly and indirectly from Luca Parnasi, formerly a key partner for the Stadio della Roma, in exchange for favouring Parnasi’s project within Raggi’s Five Star Movement (M5S) city council.

Authorities have been investigating allegations of corruption surrounding Stadio della Roma for a number of years and Parnasi is currently facing trial over the case. De Vito has been detained in prison along with one other person, while two others have been placed under house arrest.

Along with the Stadio della Roma, the ‘Congiunzione astrale’ investigation is also focusing on two other infrastructure projects in the capital. It comes as another blow for Raggi and her governing 5Stars party, which has made fighting corruption a key issue but has struggled to address issues in Rome.

In the wake of today’s news, Luigi Di Maio, Italy’s Deputy Prime Minister and leader of M5S, said on Facebook: “Marcello De Vito is out of the 5 Star Movement. I take responsibility for this decision, as a political leader, and have already communicated it to the arbiters.”

The much-delayed Stadio della Roma last month appeared to have finally been given the green light to proceed following a positive independent technical report by the Politecnico di Torino university.

Stadio della Roma centres on a 52,500-seat stadium, which will serve as the home of AS Roma. The project was first put forward in February 2012 but has been beset by delays at government level.

Image: AS Roma