Genoa (Reuters) – A trial of 59 people, including former Atlanta CEO Giovanni Castelucci, in the wake of a deadly motorway bridge collapse in Genoa opens Thursday in front of relatives of those killed in the Italian port city.
The trial, which is expected to last more than a year, will take place in the largest hall of the Genoa court, where a marquee with video screens has been set up outside to accommodate hundreds of other public members and journalists who want to attend.
The road bridge, operated by Atlanta Motorway Unit Autostrad par Italia (Aspi), collapsed on August 14, 2018, the peak of the summer holiday season, killing 43 people and leaving Italy in a state of disrepair.
Prosecutors have compiled a list of 178 witnesses, including Roberto Tomasi, the current CEO of Aspi, and two former infrastructure ministers whom they want to call.
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Legal sources said many of the defendants’ lawyers, who have always denied all allegations, disputed the findings of an expert report on the reasons for the destruction, which took a year to compile. They may ask the court to dismiss the report and form a new commission.
“The trial is expected to be long and complicated,” said Eagle Posetti, a spokeswoman for the victims’ relatives committee, who lost her sister, brother-in-law and two nephews in the crash.
“We hope that there will be no error in interrupting the thread of truth and justice that has already come up in the investigation,” he added.
Judge Paula Fazioni, who ordered the trial in April, also accepted a financial settlement proposed by Autostrade and her sister company SPEA to close the case against them.
Castellucci’s lawyer, Giovanni Paolo Aquini, said after the verdict in April that the charges against his client would “fall like autumn leaves”.
The charges against Castellucci include endangering road safety and intentional failure to take precautions to prevent disasters. Criminal law provides for a maximum of 15 years imprisonment if convicted.
The fall sparked a dispute between Atlantia, controlled by the Benetton family, and the government, which ended last year with the sale of Atlantia’s controlling stake in Autostrade.
In a document seen by Reuters about the results of the disaster investigation, prosecutors said last year that the collapse was caused by a burst of load-bearing wires inside the ninth pillar of the bridge, which was eaten away by a high pillar. Corrosive atmosphere over 51 years of bridge life.
(Reporting by Emilio Parody, Editing by Keith Weir and Jane Merriman)
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