Rome mayor moves to delay start of trial on lying charges

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ROME (AP) Rome's mayor, indicted on charges that she lied about a City Hall appointment, is seeking a trial procedure that will likely postpone any hearing until after her 5-Star Movement guns for national office in Italy's March 4 general election.

In a Facebook post Wednesday, Mayor Virginia Raggi said she had asked for an "immediate judgment" procedure because she wanted to "determine the truth as soon as possible."

But the procedure would allow her to skip the Jan. 9 preliminary hearing and proceed directly to trial at a later date. The move will likely delay the start of trial until after March 4 election, where Raggi's anti-establishment 5-Stars are hoping to wrest control of the Italian government for the first time.

Raggi has been the movement's highest-profile office-holder, but her administration has been bedeviled by the appointment scandal and Rome's continued decay under her watch. Having Raggi on trial while the 5-Stars are actively campaigning could cost them dearly.

Raggi stands accused of lying to Italy's anti-corruption czar about the appointment of Renato Marra as director of Rome's tourism department. Marra's brother, Raffaele Marra, headed city hall's personnel office until he was arrested in a corruption probe.

Raggi has said that she alone decided the appointment, but text messages uncovered by investigators suggest that Raffaele Marra was involved in getting his brother the job and a significant salary raise.

In her Facebook post Wednesday, Raggi said she was innocent and trusted Italy's justice system.

Lawmakers from Italy's Democratic Party said Raggi had every right to choose her own legal strategy.

"But don't try to paint this as a great act in search of the truth," said lawmaker Franco Vazio. "The only truth is that by doing this she bypasses the electoral campaign."

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