The Italian public prosecutor’s office requested, Friday, June 25, the referral to a court of fifty-nine people implicated in the investigation into the collapse of the Genoa bridge in August 2018, which had left forty-three dead. The prosecution of Genoa intends in particular to prosecute counts of manslaughter, attack on transport safety and various offenses of negligence.
The investigation targeted up to seventy-one natural and legal persons, but three died and more information is awaited to decide on the possible dismissal of ten suspects.
On August 14, 2018, the Morandi motorway bridge, located on an essential axis for trade between southern and northern Italy, collapsed, causing dozens of vehicles to fall. The tragedy has highlighted the poor condition of roads, bridges and railways in Italy where infrastructure suffers from a chronic deficit of maintenance and investment.
The findings of the investigation released at the end of April are damning for the manager of the viaduct, Autostrade per l’Italia (ASPI) and the engineering company SPEA, both subsidiaries of Atlantia and sued. “Between the inauguration [du pont] in 1967 and the collapse – therefore for fifty-one years – minimal maintenance was not carried out to reinforce the stays of pillar number 9 ”, which sagged that day, blames the report.
“Lacking and inadequate” controls
Since 1982, the private concessionaire has financed less than 2% of the 24 million euros devoted to interventions carried out on the structure of the viaduct, according to investigators. Security checks over the years on the bridge have been “Incomplete and inadequate”. In particular, the visual checks on the structures were “Carried out systematically from the bottom of the bridge, using binoculars or spotting scopes, and not at close range, and were therefore not able to provide reliable information on the condition of the bridge”, details the public prosecutor.
Most of the defendants are executives and technicians from the two companies, including Atlantia’s managing director at the time, Giovanni Castellucci, and the former head of SPEA, Antonino Galata, as well as officials from the Ministry of Infrastructure.
Since the Genoa tragedy, the Benetton family, which controls Atlantia, have been under pressure to cede their stake in Italy’s highways to a public consortium. At the end of long negotiations on the price of the transaction, the board of directors of Atlantia approved, at the beginning of June, the offer of the consortium led by the Italian Caisse des Dépôts (CDP) for the repurchase of its 88% share in ASPI.