30.9 million euro damages ordered in asbestos trial

Eternit owners ordered to compensate hard-hit Casale Monferrato

30.9 million euro damages ordered in asbestos trial

Turin, June 3 - A Turin appeals court on Monday ordered compensation of 30.9 million euros be paid by the former owners of a disastrous cement company to the hard-hit community of Casale Monferrato. The compensation came as the court also extended jail terms for executives of Eternit for contributing to asbestos-linked health problems among its Italian workforce. Prosecutors said that around 2,100 people have died from asbestos-linked tumours among Eternit staff, their families and people living near the factories affected by asbestos dust in the air, while hundreds more are ill. One of the the company's two major plants was located in Casale Monferrato. Employees and their families have long claimed that Eternit did little or nothing to protect its workers and residents living around its factories from the dangers of asbestos. Stephan Schmidheiny, former owner of the plant, was sentenced to 18 years after being found guilty of failing to ensure adequate safety measures at two asbestos-cement plants the now-defunct Eternit ran in Italy. At the original trial Schmidheiny was convicted along with former Eternit managing director and Belgian executive Baron Louis de Cartier de Marchienne, who has since died. Schmidheiny was found guilty for the conditions at the plants Eternit ran in Casale Monferrato and at Cavagnolo near Turin. He can now take an appeal to Italy's supreme Court of Cassation. Jail sentences in Italy are not usually served until the appeals process has been exhausted.

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