ROME Former Rome mayor Ignazio Marino, who was forced out of office last year due to a scandal over his dining expenses, was cleared of all wrongdoing by a Rome court on Friday.
Marino, a member of Prime Minister Matteo Renzi's Democratic Party (PD), lost Renzi's backing and was forced to quit by his own party in October 2015 over allegations he had used city hall money to pay for personal restaurant bills.
"I am happy but I expected this because knew I was innocent," Marino told reporters. "The truth has finally been established after such defamatory accusations by political opponents and the media."
The prosecution, which had requested that Marino be sent to prison for three years, has the right to appeal against the acquittal.
The affair dominated Italian newspaper headlines for weeks, as Marino tried to cling to office and relations between himself and Renzi deteriorated.
Marino was replaced by a government-appointed commissioner who ran Rome for seven months until new elections were held in June this year, won by Virginia Raggi, the candidate of the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement.
(Reporting by Massimiliano Di Giorgio, writing by Gavin Jones; Editing by Angus MacSwan)