Bertolaso to run for Rome mayor

Former civil protection chief Bertolaso is centre-right candidate for Rome mayor.

Italy's former civil protection chief Guido Bertolaso has accepted the nomination as the centre-right candidate in the race for Rome mayor in June elections.

Bertolaso, who served as civil protection chief from 2001 to 2010, is running as the joint ticket for the centre right allies, with the support of party leaders Silvio Berlusconi of the centre-right Forza Italia, Matteo Salvini of the anti-immigrant Lega Nord, and Giorgia Meloni of the rightwing Fratelli d'Italia.

Bertolaso, who said he is running for the "love of Rome, for her history, for the Romans”, had declined previous calls to stand due to "family reasons" which have now been resolved.

The 65-year-old, who has a degree in medicine, identified Rome's priorities as "security, roads, cleaning, decorum, hospitality, and housing for less well-off people."

Bertolaso says he has the necessary experience for the job, citing his successful handling of emergency situations such as the Naples rubbish crisis in 2008 and his selection by former Rome mayor Francesco Rutelli to help prepare the capital for the Jubilee in 2000.

However the once close aide to Berlusconi also faced a bid-rigging investigation into the construction of facilities for Italy's G8 summit in L'Aquila in 2010, a year after a major earthquake devastated the city, killing 309 people. He faced similar charges relating the original G8 site in Maddalena, Sardinia, abandoned abrubtly in favour of L'Aquila, but he was cleared of all wrongdoing.

In March a separate hearing begins in which Bertolaso faces charges of manslaughter for his role in failing to provide adequate warning of the L'Aquila earthquake. The trial follows the October 2012 conviction and six-year jail sentence of the seven scientists he tasked with assessing seismic risk in the L'Aquila region prior to the earthquake. All but one of the seven was acquitted last November.

Since leaving his post as civil protection chief in 2010, Bertolaso has steered clear of politics. He has worked as a volunteer with the NGO Doctors with Africa Cuamm, using his organisational skills and expertise in tropical diseases in the battle against the ebola epidemic in Sierra Leone.

The upcoming Rome mayoral race will see Bertolaso face the centre-left candidate Roberto Giachetti, the current deputy chamber of deputies speaker and chief of cabinet under the former Rutelli city administration.

See related Wanted in Rome article by Laura Clarke.