Renato Schifani

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Renato Schifani
Renato Schifani in Poland 2008.jpg
President of the Senate
In office
29 April 2008 – 14 March 2013
President Giorgio Napolitano
Preceded by Franco Marini
Succeeded by Pietro Grasso
Personal details
Born (1950-05-11) 11 May 1950 (age 64)
Palermo, Italy
Political party New Centre-Right
(2013-present)
Other political
affiliations
Christian Democracy
(until 1994)
Forza Italia
(1994-2009)
The People of Freedom
(2009-2013)
Religion Roman Catholic
Renato Schifani (right) at the meeting of the Association of European Senates in Gdańsk (2009)

Renato Maria Giuseppe Schifani (Italian pronunciation: [reˈnato skiˈfani]; born 11 May 1950[1]) is an Italian politician. He was a prominent member of the centre-right People of Freedom, before he joined the New Centre-Right party in 2013. From 29 April 2008 to 15 March 2013 he was President of the Italian Senate.[2][3] Schifani was born in Palermo.[1]

Biography[edit]

Berlusconi's chief whip[edit]

Schifani used to be a lawyer specialised in trials at the Supreme Court of Cassation (Italian: Corte Suprema di Cassazione), the major court of last resort. He specialized in real estate regulations and became active in the debt collecting business. Filippo Mancuso, the former minister of Justice born in Palermo, termed Schifani “the prince of debt collectors” (“il principe del recupero crediti”).[4] Prior to joining Forza Italia in 1995, he was an active member of Christian Democracy. Elected in 1996 in the Altofonte-Corleone district in Sicily, Schifani served as Silvio Berlusconi's chief whip in the Italian Senate.

In 2002, Schifani was a protagonist in the attempt to secure the embedding of the provisional Article 41-bis prison regime – used against people imprisoned for particular crimes such as Mafia involvement – as a definitive measure in Italian law.[3]

2004 Immunity Law (lodo Schifani)[edit]

Schifani and Antonio Maccanico, senator of the centre left L’Ulivo (Olive Tree) political coalition, gave their name to a bill aimed at granting immunity to the top five representatives of the State, including Silvio Berlusconi (although the other four were not facing trial). After extensive revisions of the text of the law by the Senate, Maccanico withdraw his name from the project. The lodo Schifani decree was then approved in June 2003 by the Italian parliament guaranteeing immunity to Silvio Berlusconi. The law was subsequently declared unconstitutional by the Constitutional Court on January 13, 2004.[3][5]

Similar provisions were included in the lodo Alfano Act (2008), granting immunity to the top four representatives of the State, including Berlusconi and the same Schifani as Speaker of the Senate. After being granted immunity Schifani has sued his critics Travaglio and Tabucchi for slander, allegedly claiming 1,3 million from Tabucchi as the author declared in the transmission Annozero, feb 5th 2009. The lodo Alfano was declared anti-constitutional in October 2009 as well.

President of the Senate[edit]

Schifani was elected as President of the Senate on April 29, 2008, following the general election held earlier in the month. He received 178 out of 319 votes.[2]

Alleged Mafia connections[edit]

In 1979, Renato Schifani founded and became managing director of the firm Siculabrokers.[6] Enrico La Loggia (who would later become minister of Regional Affairs), Benny D'Agostino, Giuseppe Lombardo and Nino Mandalà were among its shareholders.[7][8][9][10]

Benny D’Agostino is an entrepreneur convicted for Mafia association, Mandalà was convicted for Mafia association and was indicated by the Court as the Mafia boss of Villabate,[11][12] Lombardo was chairman and member of the board of Satris, a credit recovery agency whose shareholders were Nino and Ignazio Salvo, well known businessmen and Mafiosi of the Salemi “family,” arrested by prosecutor Giovanni Falcone in 1984.[12][13]

According to the pentito (Mafia turncoat) Francesco Campanella, Antonio Mandalà and La Loggia in the 1990s agreed on the master plan for the shopping centre they wanted to develop in the town of Villabate, which aroused the interests of politicians and the Mafia.[14] Schifani, La Loggia and the civil engineer Guzzaro -– the consultant who advised the town -– would share the consulting fees for drawing up the master plan. The master plan of the town of Villabate was designed under specific instruction of Antonino and Nicola Mandalà (Antonino’s son who was responsible for the logistics to keep the fugitive Mafia boss Bernardo Provenzano at large[15]). They conspired with the local Mafia families and politicians to skim from the public contracts.[14]

In 1992, Schifani along with Antonio Mangano and Antonino Garofalo founded GMS, another credit recovery agency. Schifani's partner Garofalo was charged with usury and extortion in 1997. However, Schifani was not mentioned in the police investigation.[6] In both cases Schifani has never been investigated for any Mafia-related offence, much less tried.

Media row with Travaglio[edit]

On May 10, 2008, the journalist Marco Travaglio interviewed on the RAI current affairs talk show television programme Che tempo che fa, talked about the Italian media. He mentioned past relationships between Schifani and men who have subsequently been condemned for Mafia association as an example of a relevant fact ignored by almost all Italian newspapers which published a biography of Schifani as the new president of Senate.[16][17][18]

The statement of Travaglio resulted in fierce and almost universally negative reactions including from the centre left, except for Antonio Di Pietro who said that Travaglio was ‘merely doing his job’. Some called for chief executives at RAI to be dismissed. The popular political commentator Beppe Grillo supported Travaglio, while Schifani announced he would go to Court and blame Travaglio for slander.[19] Schifani said Travaglio's accusation was based on "inconsistent or manipulated facts, not even worthy of generating suspicions," adding that "someone wants to undermine the dialogue between the government and the opposition."[18]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Page at Senate website (Italian).
  2. ^ a b Flavia Krause-Jackson, "Italian Senate Elects Renato Schifani as its New President", Bloomberg, April 29, 2008.
  3. ^ a b c (Italian) Il Palermo e Silvio, le passioni di Schifani, Corriere della Sera, April 29, 2008
  4. ^ (Italian) Schifani al Senato, la sfida di essere presidente di tutti, ANSA, May 4, 2008
  5. ^ (Italian) Gomez & Travaglio, Se li conosci li eviti, p. ?
  6. ^ a b (Italian) Una vita da Schifani, L'Espresso, August 13, 2002
  7. ^ (Italian) Berlusconi, Schifani ed il cattivo esempio, by Francesco Rigatelli, blog at Il Sole 24 Ore, April 30, 2008
  8. ^ (Italian) Gomez & Abbate, I Complici. See an abstract in Ecco uno stralcio da «I complici», Corriere della Sera, May 14, 2008
  9. ^ (Italian) Uliwood Party, by Marco Travaglio, L'Unità, April 23, 2008
  10. ^ (Spanish) Schifani, colaborador de Berlusconi, nuevo presidente del Senado italiano, El País, April 29, 2008
  11. ^ (Italian) Patto mafia-politica per il megastore, La Repubblica (Palermo edition), September 28, 2007
  12. ^ a b (Italian) La sentenza, La Repubblica (Palermo edition), April 28, 2007
  13. ^ L'impero dei Salvo
  14. ^ a b (Italian) 'Villabate: Schifani e La Loggia concordarono il Prg con il boss', La Repubblica (Palermo edition), May 11, 2006
  15. ^ Mafia men get 300 years in jail, BBC News, November 16, 2006
  16. ^ (Italian) «Schifani diffamato da Travaglio», Corriere della Sera, May 11, 2008
  17. ^ (Italian) Fazio chiede scusa in Tv a Schifani, La Repubblica, May 11, 2008
  18. ^ a b Compromised by compromise, blog by John Hooper (The Guardian), May 13, 2008
  19. ^ (Italian) Caso Travaglio, Schifani querela, Corriere della Sera, May 12, 2008
  • (Italian) Gomez, Peter & Lirio Abbate (2007). I complici. Tutti gli uomini di Bernardo Provenzano da Corleone al Parlamento, Fazi Editore, ISBN 978-88-8112-786-3
  • (Italian) Gomez, Peter & Marco Travaglio (2008). Se li conosci li eviti. Raccomandati, riciclati, condannati, imputati, ignoranti, voltagabbana, fannulloni del nuovo Parlamento, Milan: Chiarelettere
Political offices
Preceded by
Franco Marini
President of the Senate
2008-2013
Succeeded by
Pietro Grasso