Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Italian Politician Photographed Scuba Diving in Protected Sea Reserve

It's not every day that a politician finds himself engulfed in a scandal involving... scuba diving?

Gianfranco Fini, the speaker of Italy's lower house of Parliament was in hot water after being snapped scuba diving in a protected sea reserve.

Fini, of the far right Alleanza Nazionale party is also former deputy prime minister and is well known for his love of sub acqua activities but he enraged environmentalists with his forbidden dive.

Photographs in Italian newspapers showd him on a fire brigade launch donning a mask and flippers along with his new partner, blonde former TV presenter Elisabetta Tulliani.

The photographs showed him off the Tuscan island of Giannutri, a protected reserve where even crossing by boat is forbidden and diving is punishable by a 2000 Euro (£1400) fine.

Access to the marine reserve is limited to scientific researchers only, and recreational boating, fishing and diving in the area is strictly forbidden.

Italian enviormental group Legambiente pointed out that the area was also covered by a European Union directive for the protection of birdlife.

The management of the marine reserve said that they had received "no request for authorisation" from the divers.

Park chief Mario Tozzi said: "Even if we had, we would have denied permission. It seems to me a terrible example for someone who holds the third highest State role to set, violating a ban and using a boat belonging to the fire service to do so."

Last night a spokesman for Mr Fini said he would pay the fine and apologised for diving in the reserve.

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