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Italy's opera house La Scala is to return Saudi millions



  Image file of the La Scala Theater in Milan, Italy, December 7, 2018

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Reuters

Caption

La Scala is the home of the opera in Milan

Italy's La Scala opera house is expected to repay more than 3 million euros to Saudi Arabia after a financing plan with the kingdom triggered a public backlash.

The deal would have allowed the Saudi culture minister has a seat on the board.

Saudi Arabia's human rights record is closely watched following the assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi Arabian Consulate in Istanbul in October.

The Partnership Plan has been criticized by legal groups and politicians. 1

9659007] "We have unanimously decided to return the money," said the president of the opera house Giuseppe Sala, who is also the mayor of Milan, to reporters after a board meeting on Monday.

"We will return today I will see if there are other opportunities for cooperation."

  • The story of Jamal Khashoggi

The € 3 million already spent was part of a proposed five-year partnership proposal in Amount of € 15 million with the Saudi Ministry of Culture.

However, the plan drew widespread critics to sm, including members of the Italian League Party.

League leader and vice-premier Matteo Salvini called on the opera house to abolish the deal, while the governor of Lombardy, who is also a league member, called the artistic director of the opera, Alexander Pereira, is dismissed.

Mr. Sala said Mr. Pereira, who negotiated the deal, will keep his job.

So far, the Saudi authorities have not commented.

Saudi Arabia blamed the murder of Jamal Khashoggi on rogue agents and denied that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was aware of the operation.


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