( dpa )- Italy's former justice minister who resigned last week in the wake of a corruption scandal said Monday his party would no longer support the centre-left government of Prime Minister Romano Prodi .
"If the government were to face a confidence vote we would vote against it," Clemente Mastella said at a news conference in Rome.
The move threatens to spell the end of Prodi's shaky tenure as premier since the government needs the backing of Mastella's small moderate UDEUR party to survive in parliament's upper house, the Senate, where it has a slender majority.
Prodi began what were described as "crisis talks" with Walter Veltroni , leader of the Democratic Party, the largest in the governing coalition, following Mastella's late afternoon announcement, news reports said.
Mastella resigned last Wednesday following house arrest orders against his wife, Sandra Lonardo and several UDEUR officials, stemming from allegations of "abuse of public office" and corruption.
Mastella , who is reportedly also under investigation, together with his wife denied any wrongdoing, saying he was the victim of an "extremist" faction within the judiciary.
Before Monday's announcement, Mastella had threatened to withdraw the UDEUR's support for the government unless all the other eight parties in the coalition publicly expressed their support for his allegations against the "politicized" magistrates and prosecutors who had targeted him.