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    Italian Lega Nord (Northern League) protesters crowd Piazza del Popolo, a vast square in central Rome, during a rally to demand the Italian government keep out immigrants, Saturday, Feb. 28, 2015

    Genoa Court Sentences Founder of Lega Nord Party to 2.5 Years in Jail Over Fraud

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    Founder and ex-leader of the Italian Lega Nord party, Umberto Bossi, was sentenced to 2.5 years in jail over fraud, while former Lega Nord treasurer Francesko Belsito was sentenced to four years and 10 months in prison, according to local media reports.

    ROME (Sputnik) – A court in the northwestern Italian city of Genoa sentenced Monday the founder and ex-leader of the Italian Lega Nord party, Umberto Bossi, to 2.5 years in jail over fraud and causing millions of dollars worth in damages to the state, local media reported.

    The court also sentenced former Lega Nord treasurer Francesko Belsito to four years and 10 months in prison. Several other former Lega Nord officials and two local businesspeople were also found guilty of money laundering.

    The court decided to seize 48 million euros ($56 million) of Lega Nord funds. About one million euros of this sum will be paid to the Senate and Chamber of Deputies, which were the victims in the case.

    Earlier in July, Bossi was found guilty of using public funds to pay personal expenses during his time as head of the party. He was sentenced by a Milan court to two years and three months in prison.

    The corruption scandal, which forced Bossi to leave his post, erupted six years ago. According to the Italian prosecution, Lega Nord leadership gained about $58 million in public finances illegally. Most of the money was used for personal purposes, the prosecution said.

    Lega Nord, created in 1989, calls for granting autonomy to northern Italian regions, thus turning Italy into a federal state.

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    Lega Nord Party, Francesko Belsito, Umberto Bossi, Italy
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