From a historical judgment of 2012 it was passed by a ruling prescription and then to a second trial, this time for murder, now declassified in involuntary manslaughter, risk limitation, especially since the process has been unpacked and partly transferred to three other prosecutors. This is the record of the court proceedings that sees in the dock the Swiss entrepreneur Stephan Schmidheiny, on trial in Turin for the death of 258 people by inhalation of asbestos fibers and that worked in his former multinational.
A court case began in 2001 that only four years ago seemed to have written an important page in proceedings for environmental disaster, able to set a precedent, now it might end with a stalemate and, therefore, see nullified years of investigations, processes , interviews and surveys, while the list of deaths from pleural mesothelioma continues to grow.
The turning point in the process arrives June 3rd, 2013: Schmidheiny was sentenced on appeal to Torino to 18 years in prison. A year later, the Supreme Court states that the environmental disaster is prescribed while the power of attorney begins to proceed against the tycoon for murder. In 2015 it asked the trial for the former Eternit manager for 258 cases of death and the court of Turin challenges the Constitutional Court on the principle according to which one can’t be judged twice for the same crime. A year later came the decision of the Consulta, the process can move forward. It starts from the preliminary hearing judge. During the hearing, which took place in Turin Tuesday, November 29, the judge, Federica Bompieri, while deferring to trial tycoon Schmidheiny, has established the change from intentional homicide prosecution to aggravated manslaughter. She has therefore decided that the former owner of the multinational can be judged again. She also decreed the prescription of three cases out of 258, and the division of individual cases among the competent prosecuting authorities for the area: 243 transmitted in Vercelli (for the victims linked to the establishment of Eternit Casale Monferrato), eight in Naples (Bagnoli plant), two Reggio Emilia (Rubiera) and two in Turin (Cavagnolo) where the cause will begin June 14, 2017.
The decision of the GUP was received with bitterness by the lawyer Ezio Bonanni, president of the National Observatory Asbestos and civil party lawyer of the relatives of some victims. “It confirms that the Italian justice system is unable to do justice in general and to do so quickly – he said – The investigations began late, when, according to the Court of Cassation, the environmental disaster for the offense had already prescribed. Guariniello prosecutor did not accept my request to contest in the first trial Eternit the crime of murder. If he did, as recognized by the Attorney General of the Supreme Court, the sentence was confirmed because the crimes of murder were not prescribed. ”
For the legal “the ‘unpacking’ of the process in many sections is against the principles of procedural economy. If accused person was sentenced once, to the other procedures should be only apply the aggravating circumstance of continuing. We must be realistic: it is not easy to fight against real giants such as Eternit. The fight is unequal, this story reminds David against Goliath, it is an economic giant against citizens who are crushed like flies. ” The lawyer will proceed with a request to the Prosecutor of the Republic of Turin to appeal the determination of the preliminary hearing judge “who does not represent an additional degree of judgment – concluded Bonanni – but he just had to consider if the accusations in court were sustainable.”
Pasquale Falco, Coordinator of the Committee “Victims Eternit”of Observatory National Asbestos is “Disappointed by the Justice” too. His father Luigi and his grandfather have both worked in the factory Eternit Bagnoli. Both died for mesothelioma. His father died in February 2012, twelve days after the first sentence. “The only thing I would do at this time – he says – it would be run away from Italy. There is no real justice, and also I’m lonely. I was the only one to complain. As a boy I was taught the heat of the South, in Naples that if a person was in trouble was not left alone. Maybe it was true in the past, today it is not true. People are afraid to expose themselves. I am fighting this battle alone.”From the new processes that will start – he concludes – I do not expect much, they will fall into prescription also the case of my father.”