A trial is ordered for 59 people in the fatal collapse of the Genoa bridge | Economic news

ROME (AP) — A judge in Genoa on Thursday ordered all 59 defendants to stand trial for the deadly 2018 collapse of a heavily used road bridge in this Italian port city that plunged cars and trucks into the bed dried up from the river below.

Forty-three people were killed when a large section of the Morandi Bridge broke off in a severe rainstorm on August 14, 2018, on the eve of Italy’s major summer vacation. The charges against the defendants include several manslaughters and false statements.

Italian state television Rai, which reports from the Genoa courthouse, said the trial would begin on July 7. It took two hours for Judge Paola Faggioni to read aloud all the reasons why she rejected various objections raised by the defendants’ lawyers before ordering the trial.

Among those charged is Giovanni Castellucci, former CEO of the company that runs many of Italy’s highways and bridges, Rai said. Castellucci’s lawyers said they were confident a “fair trial” would declare him innocent, Italian news agency LaPresse reported.

Several people who worked for the Italian Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure are also on trial, the Genoese daily Il Secolo XIX reported.

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The Genoa newspaper also reported that Faggioni approved plea bargain demands from highway company Autostrade per Italia and company Spea Engineering to pay 29 million euros ($33 million) to the Italian government in exchange to avoid a lawsuit.

Prosecutors argued in their indictment that some defendants knew the bridge, which was built in the 1960s, was in danger of collapsing. They alleged that corners were cut on maintenance to save money.

The designer of the bridge had recommended regular maintenance to remove rust, particularly due to the corrosive effect of the moist air from the nearby Ligurian Sea, and maintenance to counter the effect of pollution on the concrete.

A replacement bridge, designed by renowned architect Renzo Piano, originally from Genoa, features 43 lamps in memory of those who perished.

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Michael J. Chiaramonte