ITALIAN police have arrested a former restorer of the ancient city of Pompeii on corruption charges and are investigating five others, including the former special commissioner appointed to deal with the increasing degradation of the historic site.
Italy declared a state of emergency in 2008 at Pompeii after archaeologists and art historians complained about the poor upkeep of the crumbling site, pointing to mismanagement and lack of investment.
A special commissioner, Marcello Fiori, was also appointed for the Unesco World Heritage Site, an ancient Roman city which was buried by ash and lava in an eruption of the volcano Vesuvius in AD79.
But investigators said that Mr Fiori and the director of restoration at the time, Luigi D’Amora, awarded irregular contracts to the restoration services company Caccavo and paid inflated prices for its work.
The collapse of walls and columns in Pompeii since 2008 have renewed concerns about the condition of the site.
Prosecutors said the officials broke the terms of the state of emergency, overspent on various restoration projects and agreed to non-essential work on Pompeii, one of Italy’s most popular attractions, visited by some 2.5 million tourists each year.
They have accused Mr Fiori of abuse of office while Mr D’Amora is being investigated for fraud.
Police have put Caccavo official Annamaria Caccavo under house arrest and are investigating her for aiding abuse of office, corrupting a public official and fraud. Three engineers are also being investigated for fraud and corruption.
The company has been banned from doing business with public administration and police have ordered the seizure of €810,788 (about £703,000) worth of its assets.
The accused parties were not available for comment.