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Asbestos trial begins in Turin

A major trial has opened in Italy in which a Swiss industrialist is accused of co-responsibility for the deaths of hundreds of workers.

Neither Stephan Schmidheiny nor his fellow accused, the Belgian Jean Louis Marie Ghislaine De Cartier, were present in Turin.

The two men were the majority shareholders in the Italian Eternit Genova company, which owned four asbestos factories in Italy.

Around 1,400 people have died from the consequences of asbestos dust in the factories, and about 40 new cases are reported every year.

The case submitted by the state prosecutor is that Schmidheiny and Cartier knew of the dangers of asbestos but did not take the necessary measures to protect those coming into contact with it.

If found guilty, they could face up to 13 years in prison.

The Italian prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, is also being summoned ex officio, since the Italian state is accused of exercising its duty of supervision.

The Italian insurance institution for occupational illnesses is acting as joint plaintiff. It is demanding damages of €246 million (SFr375 million). and agencies

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR