Former Executives Sentenced Over Asbestos Deaths in Italy

by VR Sreeraman on  April 27, 2010 at 5:32 PM Medico Legal News   - G J E 4
A Sicilian court Monday jailed three former executives of a shipbuilding company for negligent homicide after 37 workers died from exposure to asbestos, the ANSA news agency reported.
 Former Executives Sentenced Over Asbestos Deaths in Italy
Former Executives Sentenced Over Asbestos Deaths in Italy

The sentences ranged from three years to seven and a half for the three Fincantieri executives, the report said, adding that they were ordered to pay several million euros in damages.

Among the beneficiaries was a national insurer for workplace accidents that was a civil plaintiff in the case.

Prosecutors said Fincantieri continued using asbestos until 1999, three years after the hazardous building material was outlawed in Italy.

The 37 workers died from lung cancer, while another 26 suffered from asbestos-related diseases resulting from exposure to the fibrous mineral.

"The danger of asbestos has been known since the 1950s. Nevertheless, Fincantieri failed to take the most basic steps to prevent the inhalation of asbestos dust and fibres," the prosecutors said in closing arguments quoted by Italian media.

The convictions came as a huge trial is under way in the northern city of Turin involving shareholders of a construction company accused of responsibility for the deaths of more than 2,000 Italians from asbestos-related diseases.

One of the defendants is Swiss billionaire Stephan Schmidheiny, former owner of the Swiss group Eternit who was an important shareholder of the Italian company of the same name.

The other is Belgian Jean-Louis Marie Chislain de Cartier de Marchienne who was a minority shareholder and administrator of the Italian company.

About 6,000 people have joined in the class action suit, the largest ever on asbestos contamination, which opened in December.

Source: AFP

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