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L'Aquila business leader barricades self in Bank of Italy

Confcommercio leader protests conditions for shopkeepers

13 January, 13:24
L'Aquila business leader barricades self in Bank of Italy (ANSA) - L'Aquila, January 13 - A business association leader in the central Italian city of L'Aquila on Monday barricaded himself in a bathroom of the local Bank of Italy office to protest conditions for small businessmen in the city since its devastating 2009 earthquake.

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.