Facing confidence vote, Italy justice minister denies favoritism in case of jailed friend

Italy's justice minister has denied intervening to free a family friend from jail in an address to lawmakers as she faced a confidence vote.

Annamaria Cancellieri has been under pressure to resign following revelations that, while minister, she called the friend's companion to express sympathy after her arrest for alleged false accounting. Cancellieri told Parliament ahead of the Wednesday confidence vote that she regretted the personal phone call, but insisted that she had shown no professional favoritism.

Turin prosecutors have said they won't investigate Cancellieri for wrongdoing. She has the support of President Giorgio Napolitano and Premier Enrico Letta, who sought to ensure center-left lawmakers' support Cancellieri by linking the confidence vote to the survival of his government.