Italy bridge trial starts four years after tragedy

GENOA - Nearly 60 defendants went on trial in Genoa on Thursday, accused of manslaughter and undermining transport safety over the collapse of a bridge in the Italian city that killed 43 people four years ago. The Morandi bridge, part of a key highway connecting France and Italy, gave way in torrential rain on August 14, 2018, sending dozens of vehicles and their passengers tumbling into the abyss. The tragedy highlighted the state of Italy’s transport infrastructure. Autostrade per l’Italia (ASPI), which runs almost half of the country’s motorway network, is accused of failing to maintain the bridge that was inaugurated in 1967. The findings of the magistrates’ investigation are damning: “Between the inauguration in 1967 and the collapse, i.e. 51 years later, not even minimal maintenance work was carried out to reinforce the stays of pillar number 9”, which collapsed on the day of the disaster. “It’s a very important day for families of the victims, but also for the entire country,” said Egle Possetti, who heads a committee of relatives of the victims. “We are confident in the fact that the trial will undercover the whole truth of this tragedy to avoid our loved ones dying in vain,” she told AFP outside the court in Genoa. The opening hearing was over by noon on Thursday. The proceedings, suspended during the summer, will resume on September 12. Given the scale of the case, the trial is expected to last between two to three years.

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