Milan prosecutors seek second trial for Italy tourism minister

Italy's newly appointed Minister of Tourism Santanche attends a swearing-in ceremony at the Quirinale Palace, in Rome

ROME (Reuters) - Milan prosecutors on Thursday requested a second trial of Italian Tourism Minister Daniela Santanche, accusing her of false accounting at a publishing group she used to own.

The case could embarrass Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, who has so far defended the embattled minister and party colleague against opposition calls for her resignation.

Going by the nickname "the pythoness", 63-year-old Santanche is one of the most visible members of Meloni's right-wing cabinet, known for her brash, outspoken style.

Prosecutors said in a statement they want to try Santanche and 16 others for falsification of financial statements at the Visibilia publishing and advertising group during 2016-2022.

Visibilia Editore and sister companies Visibilia S.R.L, which is under liquidation, and Visibilia Editrice should stand trial on the same charges, they added.

Press offices for Santanche and Visibilia did not respond to requests for comment. The minister previously denied any wrongdoing.

It will be up to a pre-trial judge to either accept the prosecutors' request or dismiss the case. No date for the hearing has yet been scheduled.

Milan prosecutors requested a first trial against the minister in May, over alleged benefit fraud at Visibilia during the COVID pandemic.

A hearing over that first request has been set for Oct. 9.

Santanche served as chair and CEO of Visibilia until November 2021 and remained a major shareholder in 2022, when she joined the government.

(Reporting by Alvise Armellini; Editing by Peter Graff)