Thursday, July 12, 2007

Italy: Corruption Scandal at University Sweeps Up a Dozen People

Oronzo Limone

July 12, 2007
Corruption Scandal at Italian University Sweeps Up a Dozen People

Rome — Denouncing a “media pillory” that has deprived him of the presumption of innocence, the rector of a public university in southeastern Italy has resigned amid a criminal investigation into a large-scale university construction project. Oronzo Limone, who had been rector of the University of Salento since 2001, is under investigation by prosecutors and the police for irregularities in the approval of a humanities center to be located in a former tobacco factory in the city of Lecce.

According to reports in the local press, prosecutors suspect that approval for the project was part of an “exchange of favors,” which included votes in return for municipal jobs, between university administrators and members of the city government. Following a pattern common in Italy, the scandal has quickly expanded to include colleagues and family members of the principals and a diverse range of alleged misdeeds. Among more than a dozen people under investigation are the former rector’s chief of staff, secretary, and son. One newspaper reports that a search of the rector’s house turned up cases of Champagne and expensive stereo equipment that may have been purchased with university funds. —Francis X. Rocca

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