A trial of 59 defendants charged with manslaughter and undermining road safety after dozens of people were killed when the Morandi Bridge in Genoa, Italy, collapsed nearly four years ago has been postponed to September after the first hearing on Thursday took less than two hours. took hours.
Judge Paolo Lepri said the first hearing had ended “absolutely prematurely” and the second was scheduled for September 12, when the judges would rule on the civil plaintiffs’ requests.
The Morandi Bridge, part of a major artery connecting east and west Genoa, and the regions of Lombardy and Piedmont with Liguria and the French border, collapsed in a storm on August 14, 2018, killing 43 people, the youngest an eight-year-old boy, who fell 150 feet in one of the worst tragedies in modern Italian history.
Those on trial include former bosses and technical officers of Autostrade per l’Italia (ASPI), the highway company and SPEA, the maintenance unit, as well as current and former transport ministry managers and officials.
The Morandi Bridge has been plagued with structural problems since its construction in the late 1960s, leading to expensive maintenance.
The prosecution argued that many of the defendants knew the bridge was in danger of collapsing, but did nothing to prevent it.
However, the lawyer for former Austostrade chief executive Giovanni Castellucci, who is one of the defendants, said the trial would show that the bridge collapsed not as a result of negligence in maintenance, but as a result of an original “construction flaw”.
“This is why 43 people died in a terrifying and absurd way,” Giovanni Paolo Accinni told reporters outside the Genoa tribunal, the LaPresse news agency reported.
The remains of the structure were demolished and a new bridge designed by the architect Renzo Piano was inaugurated in July 2020.
Relatives of the deceased, who leave flowers by the bridge on the 14th of each month, have had to wait a long time for the case to go to court.
Egle Possetti, whose sister, brother-in-law, niece and nephew were among the dead and who heads a committee of victims’ relatives, told reporters ahead of Thursday’s hearing: “We have high expectations; this process must lead to justice and truth for our families and for Italians.
“We are convinced that the persecution is very strong, and should this lead to a stalemate, even with these strong elements, it means that we as a nation have no hope left.”
Despite their former managers on trial, Autostrade and Spea will escape legal proceedings after reaching a plea deal requiring the state to pay €30 million.
Hearings of the trial in the court of Genoa are scheduled until July 19, 2023.