Ministry official arrested over L'Aquila bribes

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A total of 309 people were killed in the earthquake. Photo: Joe Klamar/AFP
15:05 CEST+02:00
An official from Italy's Ministry of Culture has been arrested on corruption charges, related to work carried out after the devastating 2009 earthquake in L'Aquila, the town's public prosecutor announced on Tuesday.

Arrest warrants were also issued for one professional and three businessmen, along with the official, with three being put under house arrest and the other two due to be jailed.

The group are accused of a string of crimes, including forgery, bid-rigging and invoicing for non-existent work, according to a statement by the town’s public prosecutor’s office.

Their arrest under “Operation Betrayal” follows an investigation into building work following the earthquake on April 6th 2009, in which 309 people died.

The investigation focused on work involving “the reconstruction and the strengthening of a number of religious buildings and other cultural heritage, particularly those of historic-artistic significance,” the public prosecutor’s office said.

The latest corruption scandal to hit L’Aquila comes five months after four town hall officials were put under house arrest for their alleged part in bribery relating to reconstruction work.

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The arrests prompted Mayor Massimo Cialente to step down, only to withdraw his resignation ten days later and declare he was returning “to defend the town”.

READ MORE: L'Aquila mayor returns to 'defend' the town

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