- Associated Press - Saturday, November 10, 2018

ROME (AP) - Rome’s embattled mayor was found not guilty Saturday of a charge of lying over a City Hall appointment, ending a months-long trial that had threatened her political career.

Mayor Virginia Raggi hugged her lawyers after the judge read the verdict finding no crime had been committed in the appointment of a city tourist official.

Prosecutors alleged she had lied to anti-corruption officials when she insisted the choice of the official - the brother of her top aide at the time - was hers alone. Prosecutors alleged the appointment was engineered by her aide.

“This verdict sweeps away two years of mud,” Raggi tweeted. “We continue with our heads high for Rome, my beloved city, and for all citizens.”

Raggi always denied the charge. If convicted, she could have faced a 10-month sentence and the loss of her position as mayor. The rules of the 5-Star Movement to which she belongs state that any member convicted of a crime can’t stay in office, even pending appeal.

The end of the trial removes one hindrance to the mayor, who remains, however, under pressure over a general sense of decay in Italy’s capital, ranging from the failure to remove trash from some neighborhoods to breakdowns in the city’s transport system, including a fire on a city bus in the center and the collapse of an escalator packed with Russian soccer fans.

Romans vote in a non-binding referendum this weekend on whether they want the city’s transport city to be privatized.

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