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Italian court convicts executives in asbestos-related deaths

February 22nd, 2012

An Italian court has sentenced a building company’s former owner and its top shareholder to 16 years in prison in connection with asbestos-related deaths. Eternit AG’s former owner Stephen Schmidheiny and shareholder Jean-Louis Marie Ghislain de Cartier were charged with negligence and deemed partially responsible for deaths and illnesses of numerous employees from asbestos-related diseases.

Under Schmidheiny and Ghislain de Cartier, Eternit AG owned and operated factories in Italy. Prosecutors alleged that thousands of workers were exposed to asbestos and tied the company to nearly 2,200 deaths after the company failed to comply with asbestos safety rules.

The Italian health minister called the decision’s social and legal implications historic. Asbestos exposure has been directly linked to severe diseases such as asbestosis and mesothelioma. These diseases affect thousands of workers worldwide every year.

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