Thyssen, the Supreme Court: “Managers’ faults resulted in the deaths of seven workers”
12 December 2016
Public the reasons given for the verdict last May; the judges said that the “manager tried misdirection”.
It was the fault committed by the former CEO to the Thyssen, Harald Espenhahn, which, along with five of the steel group managers caused, for total and conscious lack of adequate safety measures, the burning of the factory in Turin in the night between 5 and 6 December 2007, after which seven workers died.
The Supreme Court also stated that it was a “massive fault” for “the imposing series of failures to specific accident prevention provisions of primary and secondary character, not least the provision of the security plan which committed the same workers in the first instance to face the fire, provided with inadequate tools, which were considered inadequate”.
The false leads
According to the Supreme Court, after the fire, the head of the factory and the security officer, Salerno and Cafueri, they also intended to approach and influence the witnesses.
For instance Salerno organized a dinner with employees of the company at the bowling club of Settimo Torinese in the imminence of the hearing of witnesses. This initiative was connected to the Cafueri unwise attempts to approach and influence the testimony of some of them.
The Supreme Court on 13 May had confirmed the appeal-bis sentences against the six accused for the fire at Thyssen, although slightly reduced. The highest penalty is inflicted for 9 years and 8 months to the CEO Harald Espenhahn, whilst the lowest, to 6 years and 3 months for Marco Pucci and Gerald Priegnitz. Also condemned Daniele Moroni to 7 years and 6 months, Raffaele Salerno 7 years and 2 months and Cosimo Cafueri to 6 years and 8 months.
It was thus confirmed the verdict of the Court of Assizes of Appeal of Turin of May 29, 2015.
Rome – 24 April 2014 (Supreme Court)
Supreme Court judges confirmed the manslaughter charges, but they cancelled the sentence regarding the aggravating circumstances.
The managers of the factory were found guilty, but would go through another process in Turin in order for the extent of their responsibility to be determined.
After the verdict, some relatives of the victims protested. “They are cowards – a mother of one of the workers who died, yelled – They have not had the courage to issue a ruling, and to tell the truth”.
Turin – 28 February 2013 (the appeal)
The appeal opened on the 28 November 2012 and on the 28 February 2013 the Assize Court of Appeal of Turin reduced the sentence.
Of Harald Espenhahn was reduced from sixteen and a half years to ten years, because appeal court judges ruled that he had not been deliberately negligent in cutting back on emergency services at the plant.
Sentences were also reduced for the other former executives: seven years Gerald Priegnitz and Mark Pucci, eight years and a half to the plant manager, Salerno, eight years for Cosimo Cafueri, responsible for security, and nine years for Daniele Moroni.
14 November 2011
The Assize Court of Turin deposited the written judgement with which he had condemned the CEO of ThyssenKrupp Terni SpA – Herald Espenhahn – to 16 years and 6 months imprisonment for the crimes of multiple murder (Article 81, paragraph 1, of the Criminal Code 575), arson (article 423 of the Criminal Code), and intentional omission of precautions against accidents at work aggravated by the event (Article 437, paragraph 2.
15 January 2009
The trial opened on 15 January 2009, a little over a year after the tragedy.
The court presided over by Mary Iannibelli, sentenced the CEO Harald Esphenhahn to sixteen and a half years in prison for “voluntary homicide”.
Executives Marco Pucci, Gerald Pregnitz, Giuseppe Salerno and Cosimo Cafueri (four ThyssenKrupp officials) were also convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to thirteen and a half years in jail, while Daniele Moroni was sentenced to ten years and ten months.
In addition, ThyssenKrupp was fined 1 million euros and would not be permitted to benefit from Italian state subsidies for six months. During the same period, ThyssenKrupp would also be prohibited from advertising its products in Italy. ThyssenKrupp was also ordered to pay €21m in compensation, fines and legal costs of which nearly 13 million to the families of the victims.
This was the first case in Italy that an executive director was convicted for homicide in a workplace death trial. This would therefore set an important precedent for future industrial accidents.
ThyssenKrupp is a German corporation, the leading company in Europe in the steel industry. Among the many companies that they control is the Terni Steel, whose factories of Terni and Turin in 1994 were partially privatized and purchased partly by Italian entrepreneurs and partly by ThyssenKrupp.
Shortly after one o’clock at night, between the 5th and the 6th December 2007, on line 5 of the steel factory in Turin (Northern Italy), seven workers were hit by a spill of hot oil, which caught fire. Colleagues called the fire brigade, and the ambulances arrived at 1.15; the wounded were transferred to the hospital. At 4 am the first worker died, his name was Antonio Schiavone. In the days that followed, between the 7th and the 30th December 2007, six other people injured will die: Joseph Demasi, Angel Laurin, Robert Scola, Rosario Rodino, March Rocco and Bruno Santino. The only survivor and eyewitness involved in the accident is Anthony Boccuzzi: he has worked for ThyssenKrupp for the past 13 years, he is a union representative of Uilm, and he will play a central role in denouncing the company.
At the time of the incident, there were only 200 of the former 400 employees and ThyssenKrupp was gradually eliminating the factory and failed to maintain health and safety standards.
This was the worst accident of this kind in Italy and it sparked a nationwide campaign about health and safety regulations and their enforcement at the workplace.
The unions immediately denounced the inadequate safety measures at the plant. The testimonies of Boccuzzi and other workers rushed to the scene of the incident and they speak of fire extinguishers discharged, telephones isolated, malfunctioning fire hydrants, and absence of skilled personnel. Not only that, some of the workers involved in the incident had worked continuously for twelve hours, having accumulated four hours of overtime.
Other witnesses said that the fires were very frequent on line 5, but the workers were asked to use the alarm button as little as possible.
Today the Turin plant of ThyssenKrupp no longer exists. It was closed in March 2008 with an agreement between the ThyssenKrupp, labour unions, local institutions and the Ministries of Labour and Economic Development.
Article n. 81
It shall be punished with the penalty that should be inflicted for the most serious breach increased up to three times the one who with a single act or omission violates several provisions of the law or commits multiple violations of the same provision of law.
The same penalty applies to any person who, with either acts or omissions aimed at the completion of the same criminal design, commits at different times more violations of the same or other provisions of law.
In cases provided by this article, the penalty may not exceed that which would be applicable under the preceding Articles.
In accordance with the extent indicated in the third paragraph, if the crimes, perpetrated by a link of necessity or consequentially with the most serious offences, are committed by persons to whom it was applied the “recurrence” of Article 99, fourth paragraph, the increase in the amount of penalty shall not be less than a third of the punishment provided for the most serious offense.
Article n. 423
Anyone who causes a fire shall be punished with imprisonment from three to seven years.
The previous provision shall also apply in the event of a fire of one’s own thing, if the act results in any danger to the public safety.
Article n. 437 – paragraph 2
Anyone who fails to put machinery, equipment or signals designed to prevent disasters or accidents at work, by removing or damaging them, shall be punished with imprisonment from six months to five years.
If the act causes a disaster or an accident, the punishment shall be imprisonment from three to ten years.
Article n. 449
Whoever, excluding the cases explained in the second paragraph of Article 423-bis, causes by negligence a fire or other disaster predicted by the first paragraph of this chapter, shall be punished with imprisonment from one to five years.
The penalty is doubled if the disaster caused is rail disaster or shipwreck or sinking of a vessel engaged in transporting people or fall of an aircraft used to transport people.
Article n. 589
Whoever causes the death of a person by criminal negligence shall be punished with imprisonment from six months to five years.
If the offense is committed in violation of the rules governing road circulation or those concerning workplace safeties, the penalty shall be imprisonment from two to seven years.
The penalty of imprisonment from three to ten years if the offense is committed in violation of the rules governing road circulation by:
1 – an insectionidual under the influence of alcohol as defined in Article 186, paragraph 2, letter c) of the legislative decree of 30 April 1992 no. 285, as amended;
2 – subject under the influence of drugs or psychotropic substances.
In the case of death of more than one person, that is the death of one or more persons and injuries to one or more persons, the penalty that should be inflicted for the most serious violations increased up to three times, but the penalty cannot exceed fifteen years.
Article n. 624 bis
Anyone who takes possession of goods owned by another, removing it from its holder, in order to make a profit for themselves or for others, through introduction in a building or another place designated to be wholly or partially as a private home or in places connected to it, is punished with imprisonment from one to six years and a fine ranging from EUR 309 to EUR 1,032.
The same punishment as referred to in the first paragraph applies to any person takes possession of goods owned by another, by removing to its holder, in order to make a profit for themselves or for others, snatching it from the hands or body of the person.
The penalty shall be imprisonment from three to ten years and a fine from EUR 206 to EUR 1,549 if the offense includes one or more of the aggravating circumstances described in the first paragraph of Article 625 or if one or more of the circumstances referred to in Arti.
For more information, please see:
- Republica – 12 December 2016
- Republica – 25 April 2014
- Republica – 25 April 2014 (second article)
- Republica – 24 April 2014
- Il Fatto – 24 April 2014
- Giurisprudenza Penale – 24 Aprile 2014
- Articolo 21 – 23 Aprile 2014
- Gazzetta del Sud – 28 February 2013
- Reuters – 28 February 2013
- Workers Compensation – 5 October 2011
- Financial Times – 17 April 2011
- Il Post – 16 April 2011
- Mines and Community – 15 April 2011