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Top regional official, 27 others indicted in connection with Naples garbage crisis

Top regional official, 27 others indicted in connection with Naples garbage crisis

An Italian judge has ordered the powerful president of the region surrounding Naples and 27 other people to stand trial in connection with the garbage collection crisis that has been plaguing the southern Italian city.
The trial of regional President Antonio Bassolino and his co-defendants was set to start May 14 in Naples, his lawyer said Saturday.
Charges include defrauding the state and abuse of office. Bassolino has denied wrongdoing.
He said Saturday that he would stay on and "fight with my head held high for the truth _ both political and judicial _ to emerge."
"I have done nothing wrong," he said, according to the ANSA news agency.
Garbage problems have plagued Naples and the Campania region for years. The latest one broke out around Christmas when collectors stopped picking up the trash because there was no more room at dumps.
Authorities have blamed organized crime infiltration of garbage collection services and protests that have hindered the construction of dumps and disposal plants, even as existing ones are packed to overflowing.
Bassolino, a leading center-left politician, had already come under heavy criticism from both national and domestic politicians in the aftermath of the crisis. Friday's indictment renewed calls for his resignation from the conservative camp, and created some embarrassment among Bassolino's center-left allies head of a general election next month.
The investigation that led to the charges looked at events between 2000 and 2004, when Bassolino served both as regional president and as special commissioner in charge of the garbage situation, said his lawyer, Giuseppe Fusco. He gave up the commissioner post in 2004.
Prosecutors say that mismanagement in those years lay the foundation for the current garbage crisis.
The investigation also targets construction company Impregilo and three other companies in its group, according to a statement from Impregilo.
The companies had won contracts for the disposal of garbage. The prosecutors allege they failed to manage the waste according to the regulations and standards required, Italian news reports said.
Bassolino is accused of failing to exercise the proper checks, thus failing to prevent the alleged violations from taking place, according to his lawyer.
The Impregilo statement said the companies "have always acted in the respect of the law" and that their goal had been to help solve the waste management problem in the region.