Genoa, Italy — Fifty-nine people were tried on Thursday for the 2018 collapse of Genoa’s Morandi bridge, charged with manslaughter and other charges in the deaths of 43 people.
The defendants include former executives and experts from the company that manages many of Italy’s bridges and highways, as well as former officials from Italy’s Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport.
A huge section of the Morandi Bridge broke during a severe rainstorm on August 14, 2018, when motorways were packed on the eve of Italy’s biggest summer holiday, sending cars plunging into the dry bed of the river below.
Prosecutors alleged the defendants knew the bridge, which was built in the 1960s, was in danger of collapsing and corners were being cut during maintenance to save money.
The designer of the bridge had recommended regular maintenance to remove rust, particularly due to the corrosive effect of the humid air from the nearby Ligurian Sea, and maintenance to counter the effect of pollution on the concrete.
“There are elements that prove that since 2013 it was written in documents that the Morandi bridge was in danger of collapsing,” said Egle Possetti, a member of the committee of relatives of Morandi victims who attended the hearing. hearing.
“In five years, nothing has been done. This is unacceptable. So we will fight, as relatives and civil parties, for this trial to bring justice to our families and respect the dead who are not there”, Possetti said in court.
After an hour of procedural motions, Judge Paolo Lepri adjourned proceedings and set a new hearing for September 14 in a trial that is expected to take more than a year to reach a verdict, LaPresse news agency reported.
In April, a judge in Genoa approved plea bargain requests from highway company Autostrade per Italia and engineering firm Spea to pay 29 million euros ($33 million) to the Italian government in exchange for the avoidance of a lawsuit.
Lawyer for former Austostrade CEO Giovanni Castellucci, who is among the defendants, said the lawsuit would show the bridge collapsed not due to negligence in maintenance, but due to an original “construction defect”.
“That’s why 43 people died in a terrifying and absurd way,” lawyer Giovanni Paolo Accinni told reporters Thursday outside the Genoa court.
A replacement bridge, designed by famous architect Renzo Piano, originally from Genoa, has 43 lamps in memory of those who perished.
Liguria Governor Giovanni Toti said the start of the trial was important for the region but also for the relatives of the victims.
“From today, justice and truth are closer and we hope they will come quickly,” Toti wrote on Facebook. “This is the only way to restore the trust between citizens and the state that collapsed on August 14 lost.”
After the collapse, the Italian government struck a deal in which fashion family Benetton agreed to sell its stake in Autostrade.
Winfield reported from Rome.