Mario Scelba, 90, a former prime minister and one of Italy’s most controversial and conservative post-war politicians. Scelba, a Sicilian who helped found the Christian Democratic Party, served as prime minister from 1954 to 1955 but was best known for his tough anti-communist stand as interior minister in the difficult period from 1947 to 1953. He purged Italy’s national police of partisans associated with the powerful Communist Party, which had been defeated by the Christian Democrats in the 1948 elections. Scelba founded a special police unit which put down mass demonstrations by workers and crushed the occupations of large estates by landless peasants in the poor south. A constant target of leftist criticism, Scelba held various posts in the Christian Democratic party in the 1960s and was president of the European Parliament from 1969 to 1971. In Rome on Tuesday.