ITALY

Mayor of quake-hit Italian city of L'Aquila quits after corruption scandal

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 12 January, 2014, 11:29pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 12 January, 2014, 11:29pm
AFP

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The mayor of the Italian city of L'Aquila, which was partially destroyed in a 2009 earthquake that killed 309 people, has quit after a corruption scandal involving members of his team.

"I have no legitimacy left. I am tired. I am angry. I have suffered a full-on media attack. That is why I am resigning," Massimo Cialente said.

"I have understood that I am no longer useful in this city and I am maybe even an obstacle," he added.

Four people from his administration were placed under house arrest on Wednesday for alleged bribery linked to reconstruction contracts following the earthquake.

Four more have been notified that they are under investigation, including deputy mayor Roberto Riga and a local official who is in charge of restoring damaged monuments.

Police said the eight people under investigation received a total of €500,000 (HK$5.3 million) in kickbacks from construction firms.

They are also accused of falsifying papers to receive €1.2 million in public funds and one is suspected of profiting from the sale of housing which was built after the disaster.

The earthquake, which measured 6.3 on the Richter scale, devastated L'Aquila and the surrounding area in the Apennine Mountains.

Many buildings in the city centre still lie in ruins, with few signs of the hundreds of millions of euros spent on reconstruction.