May 26, 2013
EU launches 105-million-euro restoration of Pompeii
The European Union launched a 105 million euro ($142.05 million) restoration of the Roman city of Pompeii today, and said it would seek to protect conservation funds from the mafia.
The project began a day after police arrested a restorer on suspicion of pocketing hugely inflated fees for work at the crumbling Roman town, a world heritage site that was declared to be in a state of emergency in 2008 due to its deterioration.
The money will pay for a new drainage system, the reinforcement of some structures and staff training and includes "a variety of measures to protect itself from the influence of organised crime - the Camorra - which infects many parts of the region," the European Commission said.
Naples, the largest city in southern Italy, is home to the Camorra, the local mafia which thrives on trafficking, extortion, and government contract frauds.
Police are investigating former managers at Pompeii whom they suspect of paying inflated prices for restoration work. One contract originally priced at 449,882 euros ended up costing almost 5 million euros, and many works were not essential, prosecutors said.
Italy declared a state of emergency in Pompeii in 2008 after archaeologists complained about poor upkeep, mismanagement and lack of investment.
The town, buried by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius volcano in 79 AD until its rediscovery in 1748, which attracts 2.3 million tourists a year, suffered further serious damage in torrential rainfall in 2011.