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Page last updated at 12:26 GMT, Wednesday, 14 May 2008 13:26 UK

Naples court delays rubbish trial

Piles of rubbish on the outskirts of Naples, Italy
The authorities have spent millions of euros trying to tackle the problem

The trial of the Naples regional president, charged with defrauding the state over the city's ongoing rubbish crisis, has been delayed.

Antonio Bassolino, accused of abusing office, faces charges along with 27 others. He denies wrongdoing.

A judge in Naples ruled that the trial would be delayed until 2 July, Italian media report.

The other defendants are employees of companies that won contracts for the disposal of the rubbish.

They are accused of failing to follow waste management regulations.

Naples is still buried under 4,000 tonnes of uncollected rubbish.

There are some 45,000 tonnes on the streets in the wider Campania region.

This week trains piled with rubbish have been leaving the city destined for Germany, while fire-fighters have been dousing rubbish set alight by residents.

Failing standards

The BBC's Christian Fraser in Rome says Mr Bassolino is widely blamed for this mess.

The investigation that led to this trial focused on events between 2000 and 2004, when he served as both regional president and special commissioner in charge of the rubbish collection.

Uncollected rubbish on a street in Lucrino, near Naples, Italy

Prosecutors say it was the chronic mismanagement under his watch that has plunged Naples into a crisis.

The case also targets a construction company, Impregilo, and three other companies in its group that won contracts for the disposal of garbage.

It is alleged they failed to manage the waste according to regulations and standards required.

Last week, the European Commission took Italy to court, saying the government had repeatedly failed to put in place a plan to tackle the problem.

Responding, in his first speech to the new parliament on Tuesday, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said the scandal must and will end.

He has pledged to hold his first cabinet meeting in the city of Naples on Wednesday next week.




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