A programme involving the construction of prefabricated homes for the victims of last year's earthquake in the Friuli region of north eastern Italy, has become the subject of a widening corruption scandal.
A programme involving the construction of prefabricated homes for the victims of last year's earthquake in the Friuli region of north eastern Italy, has become the subject of a widening corruption scandal. Already four people, including the former mayor of a village affected by the quake, have been arrested and charged with corrupt practices. Signor Alfonso Baltrame, the former mayor of Resiutta was accused of Embezzling funds which were used in connection with the reconstruction work. His son Lorenzo was charged with abusing an official position for private gain. And on 1st September Italy's Interior Ministry Undersecretary, Giuseppe Zamberletti, who headed the earthquake disaster fund, resigned after his chief assistant, Giuseppe Balbo was arrested last month, charged with accepting a 6,000 poind sterling (3,838 US dollars) bribe in exchange for a contract from a building company.
SYNOPSIS: The homes of more than 100,000 people were destroyed by the earthquake which struck the region at dawn on 10th May last year. It was one of Europe's most devastating earthquakes.
The Italian government provided more than 125 million pounds sterling (215 million US dollars) towards a relief programme, with most of it going on the construction of 20,000 new prefabricated homes. It's been alleged that unscrupulous builders and local officials misused the fund for their own financial gain.
The scandal came to light after one of the builders accused Signor Balbo of demanding kickbacks in order to be allowed to sell the homes. Helplessly in the middle, were the earthquake victims, who had to live in the prefabricated homes many of which were poorly constructed. The houses are made up of thin sheets of aluminium: have plastic windows, and poorly fixed ??? The results have been miserable. In the summer, the prefabs are insufferably hot, and in winter with the rains and heavy snow the homes suffer from never ending leaks.
Inquiries into the growing scandal are now investigating claims that other mayors and officials in the Friuli region were selling relief gods such as blankets, clothes and medicines, immediately after the quake. The items should have been given to the victims free. Earthquake victims have been complaining about the authorities' lack of intervention in the Friuli affair, despite the large allocation of substantial funds. Meanwhile, an investigation has begun in Canada by one of the building firms involved. The possible enormity of the scandal has been causing mass indignation throughout Italy. The people in Friuli will have their chance to note their disapproval of the affair when the ruling Christian Democratic Party holds a large pre-election rally in their region next month.