L'Aquila business leader barricades self in Bank of Italy
Confcommercio leader protests conditions for shopkeepers13 January, 13:24
Celso Cioni, president of L'Aquila's Confcommercio retailers' association, said his gesture was "a cry of pain from small shopkeepers of this battered city forced by the earthquake to leave their stores without obtaining (public) support and incurring debts".
"There have been suicides," Cioni added.
The business leader also declared he was launching hunger and thirst strikes, and threatened to light himself and the bathroom on fire at any attempt to break down the door.
"If the doors of the bathroom where I am barricaded in are forced open, I have gasoline and a lighter," Cioni warned.
An earthquake in L'Aquila on April 6, 2009 caused the deaths of 297 people and vast structural damage.
It registered 5.9 on the Richter scale.
The Italian press has also reported the suicides of an unusual number of small business owners throughout the country since the onset of the financial crisis in 2008.