ROME - Former Rome mayor Gianni Alemanno appeared in court Wednesday for the first hearing in his trial for corruption and illegal financing as part of a crackdown on a mafia-style network in the Italian city. Alemanno, agriculture minister under Silvio Berlusconi and mayor of the capital from 2008 to 2013, is suspected of having illegally pocketed 125,000 euros ($135,240) to finance his political activities. "I will prove my innocence, although many have already written me off as guilty," Alemanno told journalists at the court.–AFP

The hearing was adjourned until Friday so that the court can rule on whether consumer associations can be a party to the case.

On top of the graft allegation, Alemanno has been accused of appointing former militants and friends to city posts.