Dozens of people are on trial in Italy over the collapse of the Morandi Bridge in Genoa in 2018.
A total of 59 defendants are charged with manslaughter, negligence, forgery and a range of other charges related to the deaths of 43 people.
Among them are former leaders and experts of Autostrade per l’Italia (ASPI), which manage Italy’s roads, and former officials of the Italian Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport.
A huge section of the Morandi bridge came off during a heavy rainstorm on August 14, 2018, sending cars falling into the dry river bed below.
Prosecutors argued that the defendants knew the bridge was in danger of collapse and did not maintain it to save money.
Lawyer for former ASPI CEO Giovanni Castellucci argued that the bridge collapsed due to a sudden “construction defect” rather than negligent maintenance. If found guilty, he faces a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.
After an hour of trial, Judge Paolo Lepri set a new hearing date for September 12.
The shocking footage of the collapse of the Morandi bridge will remain in the memory of many Italians for a long time.
A 1.2 km bridge on the A10 motorway across Genoa provided a link between northern Italy and France.
But one morning, almost four years ago, a 200-meter section of the bridge around the 9th pillar collapsed in heavy rain.
The collapse of a structure built in the 1960s also highlighted the poor state of Italy’s transport infrastructure.
Nothing has been done in five years
The bridge’s designer recommended regular maintenance to remove rust, especially due to the corrosive effects of moist air from the nearby Ligurian Sea.
Officials were also allegedly warned to improve maintenance to counter the effects of pollution on the bridge’s concrete.
“There are elements proving that since 2013 it has been written in the documents that the Morandi bridge is in danger of collapse,” said Egle Possetti, a member of the committee of relatives of the Morandi victims, who was present at the hearing.
“For five years, nothing has been done. This is unacceptable. So we will fight, as relatives and civilians, for this court to do justice to our families and respect for the dead, who are not here, ”Possetti said outside the tribunal.
“The Morandi Bridge was a ticking time bomb. You could hear the ticking, but you didn’t know when it would explode,” another prosecutor, Walter Cotugno, said in February.
In April, a Genoese judge approved plea requests by ASPI and engineering company SPEA pay the Italian government 29 million euros in exchange for avoiding trial.
But the court ruled that individual executives and experts could still be held accountable for the disaster.
Ligurian Governor Giovanni Toti said the start of the trial was important not only for the region, but also for the relatives of the victims.
“From today, justice and truth have become closer, and we hope that this will happen quickly,” Toti said. posted on facebook.
“Only in this way can we renew the pact of trust between the state and citizens, which collapsed on that damned August 14th.”
After the collapse, the Italian government struck a deal where the Benetton fashion family agreed to sell their stake in ASPI.
The new bridge in the port city, designed by renowned Genoese architect Renzo Piano, is decorated with 43 lanterns to commemorate the victims.