( dpa ) - Italian Justice Minister Clemente Mastella on Thursday seemed set to confirm his decision to resign in the wake of a probe which has led to his wife and several top officials of his party being placed under house arrest.
Mastella - who according to news reports is also under investigation in connection with the abuse of public office allegations against his wife - was scheduled to give a news conference at around midday to explain his decision.
But a a leading member of Italy's governing centre-left coalition, Antonello Soro, was quoted by the ANSA news agency as saying that Mastella had already informed Prime Minister Romano Prodi he would not withdraw his resignation tendered on Wednesday.
Prodi, who had asked to Mastella to remain in his post, would most likely take over the justice portfolio on a temporary basis according to Soro who is a parliamentary whip for the Democratic Party the largest member of the governing coalition.
Meanwhile the probe which led to the house arrest order against Mastella's wife Sandra Lonardo, who is a senior official in the southern Campania region's government has implicated several other officials.
The mayor of Benevento, Fausto Pepe along with several municipal councillors - all members of Mastella's UDEUR party - in the southern town located near Naples have all been served house arrest warrants.
The orders issued by a magistrate in the Naples suburb of Santa Maria Capua Vetere stemmed from charges related to the abuse of public office.
Prosecutors allege Lonardo - who normally uses her maiden surname - used her position as speaker of the Campania regional cabinet to trade favours with the director of a state hospital in Caserta.
Lonardo has denied any wrongdoing and has said she has no intention to resign.
Mastella, announcing his resignation in a speech to Parliament's lower house Chamber of Deputies on Wednesday, said he was the victim of a political vendetta, and denounced what he said was the "criminal use" of intercepted telephone conversations by elements of the judiciary and the media.
Mastella's departure from the cabinet threatens to provoke a crisis in Prodi's shaky nine-party centre-left coalition which has been embroiled in an electoral reform dispute.
Mastella who leads the small moderate UDEUR party had previously threatened to quit over proposals which would give larger political parties more weight - reforms many see necessary to give Italy more stable governments.