Top Italian criminal lawyer to run as candidate for League

One of Italy's top criminal defense lawyers is giving law-and-order credibility to the anti-migrant League party by running as a candidate in Italy's March 4 parliamentary election.

Giulia Bongiorno appeared Thursday in Rome to announce her candidacy alongside League leader Matteo Salvini, indicating that she wanted to work on justice reform. Bongiorno successfully defended former Premier Giulio Andreotti from mafia charges and Raffaele Sollecito, the ex-boyfriend of American Amanda Knox, on murder charges.

"I can't take any more chaos of the Far West, the jungle," Bongiorno said. "I was struck by the clarity of Salvini's ideas on sanctions and rules. In this country there are broken standards that magistrates interpret as they want."

Salvini said Bongiorno's candidacy "is a sign of a League that is growing."

Salvini has been working to expand the League's influence beyond its geographical heartland in northern Italy, dropping Northern from the party's official name.

Many analysts are predicting a hung parliament after the March 4 vote due to the fragmented nature of Italy's political scene. Top issues for voters include migrant arrivals, security and the slow pace of Italy's economic recovery.

The vote is shaping up into a three-way race between a weakened Democratic Party, the populist 5-Star Movement and the center-right, with Salvini's League vying for dominance among center-right voters with former Premier Silvio Berlusconi's Forza Italia party.