'Palermo prosecutors are to examine the budget of the Sicilian regional assembly and documents pertaining to spending by party caucuses as part of a probe opened on Tuesday. The investigation comes in the wake of funding scandals involving parties from both sides of the political fence in Milan, Rome and other cities.', reports the Italian news agency Ansa.
Italian prosecutors have extensive powers - to open investigations, search for evidence, require witnesses to testify, and require co-operation from public bodies and private individuals - equally, the Sicilian mafia has a long record of murdering them, and officers of the police and Carabinieri, if they try to use them.
The extent of the corruption and misuse of public funds by political parties and by political elites, laid bare in current, similar investigations in the regions and nationally, has rendered political parties in Italy almost paralysed by their inability to explain themselves to the general public.
Despite very high levels of public approval of his leadership during his premiership, Mario Monti consistently states he will not stand at the general elections in May next year. He has not said he would refuse any invitation to form an administration and, as he himself has pointed out, he doesn't need to be elected to Parliament: he is a senator for life.