The public prosecutor’s office in Bergamo, in the north of Italy, will hear Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte in the context of an investigation into the management of the COVID-19 epidemic which has killed more than 34,000 people on the peninsula, Italian news agencies announced on Wednesday.
The magistrates, who could go to Rome to hear Mr. Conte, also wish to listen to the testimony of the ministers of Health, Roberto Speranza, and of the Interior, Luciana Lamorgese, added these same agencies.
In a quick press statement on Wednesday evening, Conte said the hearing would take place on Friday.
“The things I have to say to the prosecutor, I will say to the prosecutor, I do not want to anticipate. I will conscientiously report all the facts that come to my knowledge. I am not at all worried, ”assured the Prime Minister.
“All inquiries are welcome. Citizens have the right to know and we have the right to respond, ”he added.
The prosecution of Bergamo, a martyr city in the Lombardy region and epicenter of the epidemic that struck Italy from early February to May, is conducting several separate investigations related to this tragedy.
The one in which the magistrates wish to hear Mr. Conte and his two ministers concerns the delays in the creation of a “red zone” comprising two municipalities in this department, Nembro and Alzano Lombardo, particularly affected by COVID-19.
The central government and the leaders of Lombardy reject the responsibility for this delay, which had a dramatic impact with the saturation of the health system, the increase in mortality and the spread of the new coronavirus in this region.
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The President of Lombardy, Attilio Fontana, and his regional responsible for Health, Giulio Gallera, heard at the end of May before the Bergamo public prosecutor’s office on this aspect, had affirmed that the decision to establish the “red zone” was up to the government in Rome. .
The Minister of Regional Affairs, Francesco Boccia, at the time replied that “even the region could have established it, there is a law allowing it”.
The whole question therefore concerns who, from the central government or Lombardy, should have, between March 3 and 9, set up this “red zone”.
This investigation is separate from the class action brought Wednesday morning, also in Bergamo, with the filing with the local prosecutor’s office of around fifty complaints by relatives of victims of the virus, the first group action in Italy concerning the pandemic.
The first “red zones” were established at the end of February by decision of the Italian government and concerned a dozen municipalities in Lombardy, in particular Codogno, the city of “patient number one”.
In early March, the epidemic continued to spread, with two larger outbreaks, in the two municipalities of Nembro and Alzano, in the department of Bergamo.
The Technical and Scientific Committee (CTS), which advises the government of Mr. Conte, then proposed to impose a “red zone” there, judging that the situation “worsened throughout Lombardy”, while the Institute Superior of Health (ISS) in turn recommended the same measure the next day in these two municipalities.
According to Corriere, Mr. Conte once again met these experts on March 6, to finally choose to make the whole country a “red zone”, by a decree signed on March 7 and entered into force two days later, thus losing precious time to contain the pandemic.
“After so many lies and shameful attacks, justice is done: those who have made mistakes must pay,” said Matteo Salvini, the head of the League (far right), to which the president of the Lombardy, itself severely criticized for its management of the crisis.