Industrialist Shoots Himself In Head As Scandal Grows
ROME (AP) _ Italy’s seemingly unstoppable political corruption scandal brought the death Friday of Raul Gardini, a leading industrialist, yachtsman and one-time national idol, who shot himself in the head.
Gardini’s death in Milan was the second reported suicide this week of a high-profile figure in the kickback probes that began shaking Italy a year and a half ago, entwining former premiers, cabinet ministers and many of the top names in business. In all, there have been 10 suspected suicides of scandal suspects.
Gardini left his business card for his family with ″grazie″ (thanks) scrawled on it, the minister for parliamentary affairs, Paolo Barile, told the Chamber of Deputies.
″Every day a tragedy,″ Defense Minister Fabio Fabbri said.
News reports said Gardini, 60, killed himself in the bedroom of his apartment in an 18th century palace near La Scala Opera house about two hours before the late-morning funeral of Gabriele Cabriele, a giant of Italian state industry. Cagliari was found dead, his head in a plastic bag, in his Milan prison cell Tuesday.
Both men were being investigated over Enimont, a short-lived joint venture several years ago between Gardini’s private chemical empire, Montedison, and ENI, the state energy conglomerate then led by Cagliari.
Gardini, a yachtsman whose challenge last year in the America’s cup off California had Italians staying up in the wee hours to cheer him and his boat, was notified in February that he was under investigation over the controversial sale of his stake in Enimont. Gardini was the former head of the agro-industrial giant Ferruzi-Montedison.
Police said Gardini had a gunshot wound to the right temple, apparently made with a 7.65-caliber semi-automatic pistol.
The two deaths this week raised protests by leaders of parties most hurt by the scandal, who called for less harsh treatment of suspects. Cagliari had been jailed for four months without being charged.
Outside the church before Cagliari’s funeral, some in the crowd shouted, ″Shame 3/8 Shame 3/8″
But others saw the two deaths as more reason for fresh leadership as a way out of the scandals. Opposition politicians urged President Oscar Luigi Scalfaro to immediately call a new election.
Gardini had always denied any involvement in the corruption scandal. But Thursday night, news reports said that a former chairman of Montedison, Giuseppe Garofano, who was extradited from Switzerland last week, told prosecutors that Gardini ordered him to create a slush fund to pay off politicians. The allegation would likely have led to Gardini’s arrest.
On Friday evening, the Milan prosecutors’ office said it issued arrest warrants for Carlo Sama and Vittorio Giuliani Ricci, prominent members of the Ferruzzi family and brothers-in-law of Gardini.
The two are being investigated for suspected corruption and violation of party funding laws. Sama, who resigned last month as managing director of Montedison after banks took control of the heavily indebted group, is also suspected of falsifying balance sheets.
More than 2,000 politicians, businessmen and public officials have been arrested or placed under investigation in the kickback-for-contracts and favors probes.
The four parties in Premier Carlo Ciampi’s government, especially the Socialists and Christian Democrats, have been mired in the scandal and have seen their electoral fortunes sink since the probe’s first arrests.
With few exceptions, there have been no trials, and none of major figures. A proposal earlier this year for a political deal to virtually end prosecutions in the scandal hastened the end of Giuliano Amato’s government.
Surveys of citizens consistently indicate they want the prosecutors to keep cleaning house. Elections are expected after Parliament passes electoral reforms overwhelmingly endorsed in a voter referendum, but a summer deadline for them is about to pass.
Meanwhile, work has been moving along on legislative changes to halt preventative detention in most cases for such suspected crimes as abusing party funding regulations. In Italy suspects can be jailed virtually indefinitely without charge.