On Thursday, an Italian judge ordered 59 people, including former Atlantia CEO Giovanni Castellucci, to stand trial over the collapse of a bridge in Genoa four years ago. 43 people died.
The road bridge, operated by Atlantia’s motorway unit Autostrade per l’Italia, collapsed in the port city on Aug. 14, 2018. Forty-three people died and the dire state of Italy’s crumbling infrastructure was laid bare.
On Thursday, Judge Paola Faggioni, at the end of a closed-door preliminary hearing that began last October, ordered 59 people to stand trial over the Genoa bridge collapse.
Paola Vicini, the mother of one of the victims, wept outside the court house on Thursday. “To the other victims’ families, I say have strength and courage, and we will get justice,” Reuters reported her as saying.
The trial will start in Genoa on July 7th.
Companies’ settlement proposals accepted
Judge Faggioni also accepted the settlement proposed by Autostrade and its sister company SPEA to close the case.
Autostrade had offered to pay €1 million as a settlement and €26 million in compensation to the Italian state for the case. Meanwhile SPEA proposed to pay €810,000 to settle.
Last June, Italian prosecutors had asked for Autostrade, SPEA and 59 individuals to be sent to trial. However, the payments mean the companies will not be involved any more.
The individuals, Autostrade and SPEA have maintained their innocence over the bridge collapse. The settlement does not involve any recognition of wrongdoing on the part of the two companies.
Giovanni Paolo Accinni, a lawyer for Castellucci, said the accusations against his client would “fall away like an autumn leaf”.
The collapse caused a dispute between Atlantia and the government that ended last June with the sale of Atlantia’s controlling stake in Autostrade to state lender Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (CDP) and investment partners.
Why did the bridge collapse?
Last year, prosecutors said the rupture of load-bearing cables inside the stay of the bridge’s ninth pillar caused the collapse. The cables failed due to having been eaten away by a highly corrosive atmosphere over the previous 51 years.
Managers at Atlantia units Autostrade and SPEA allegedly avoided proper checks of the infrastructure. Furthermore, they did not correct serious issues that emerged only a few years after the viaduct opened in 1967.