A police investigation into the dubious acts of one of Italy's national heroes has begun in Florence. Head of the Civil Protection agency, Giudo Bertolaso, who became a national hero and household name for his role in Italy's speedy reconstruction efforts after last year's devastating earthquake in L'Aquila, is also under investigation for allegedly receiving cash and sexual favours in exchange for lucrative public building contracts.
The Italian media have published transcripts of telephone calls in which Bertolaso allegedly referred to enjoying both massages and sexual services at a fitness and health centre in Rome owned by builder Diego Anemone, whose construction firm was also alledgedly awarded illegal public works contracts.
Florence prosecutors, who are now in charge of the investigation, opened a nationwide probe into the alleged contracts, sex parties and kickbacks related to the construction of the 327-million-euro complex in Sardinia, on the island of La Maddalena, built to host last year's G8 summit. When officials moved the venue of the G8 summit to L'Aquila, the La Maddalena complex was never finished. Abandoned, there is no sign that it will become the 75-million-euro luxury hotel it was to be after the summit.
When Bertolaso's offices were searched, he offered his resignation. However Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi rejected it. So far, four business men and one official have been arrested in the case.
Florence police found evidence of the alleged corruption in public works contracts for the G8 during their investigation into alleged favoritism in the development plans for the Castello area in Florence.