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Italian PM Announces Successor to Controversial Interior Minister - 2002-07-03

Italy's prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, has named his government's new interior minister after Claudio Scajola stepped down. Mr. Scajola's resignation followed an outcry over comments he made about an assassinated government consultant. Italy's Interior Minister Claudio Scajola will be replaced by Giuseppe Pisanu, currently minister for government programming and a leading member of the prime minister's Forza Italia party. The announcement was made by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi during a stormy session Wednesday in the Italian parliament.

Earlier, Mr. Scajola had handed in his resignation for the second time in less than a week. On Sunday Prime Minister Berlusconi had rejected Scajola's offer to step down but the move brought him under intense pressure. It prompted calls from the opposition for Mr. Berlusconi himself to resign.

The interior minister's political downfall followed his criticism of a government consultant who was killed by the Red Brigades four months ago. The labor consultant, Marco Biagi, had been working on controversial reforms, which still see the government and the unions at odds.

Mr. Scajola last week outraged politicians and the Italian public when he described Mr. Biagi as "a pain in the ass" who was only interested in a renewal of his consultancy contract. He also questioned the importance of Biagi's work.