IBAS Eternit Monograph Released as Verdict in the Great Asbestos Trial is Announced 

by Laurie Kazan-Allen



On February 13, 2012, a Turin Court will announce the verdict in a criminal case brought by Italian prosecutors against former asbestos executives employed by the Swiss and Belgian Eternit Groups: Swiss billionaire Stephan Schmidheiny and Belgian Baron Louis de Cartier de Marchienne.

The defendants are charged with causing permanent environmental disaster and failing to comply with safety rules for their part in the running of asbestos-cement factories in Casale Monferrato and other Italian cities. It is alleged that as a result of their actions, hazardous exposures took place which caused a humanitarian asbestos disaster. The Public Prosecutor (PP) is asking for 20-year jail sentences.

The asbestos-injured and the asbestos bereaved have waited more than thirty years to confront those they hold responsible for the epidemic which has caused so many deaths; indeed, PP Raffaele Guariniello spent more than ten years preparing for this trial which commenced in 2009.

Coachloads of Italians will be making the journey to Turin to hear the verdict including hundreds of high school students from Casale Monferrato. They will be joined by asbestos campaigners from all over the world, all of whom will be hoping to see justice done by the three-judge panel. The verdict can be heard in real time on the websites: http://www.afeva.it or on http://www.radiogold.it; simultaneous interpretation of the trial verdict in English will be available in real time on the website: http://asbestosinthedock.ning.com

In recognition of the international importance of these legal proceedings and the dearth of information about Eternit in English, a book has been published this month by a consortium of civil society groups which examines this case against the backdrop of Eternit activities on three continents. Eternit and The Great Asbestos Trial will be available online on the IBAS website from February 13, 2012.

The eighteen papers contained in this monograph examine Eternit operations in seven countries; the texts reveal a corporate modus operandi which consistently prioritized profits regardless of the cost paid by workers, family members, consumers and communities. Time and again Eternit achieved corporate growth through collusion with discredited regimes. In Nazi Germany, slave labor from concentration camps was used in the Berlin Eternit factory. During the apartheid era in South Africa, black workers were treated like slaves in the asbestos mines and in Nicaragua, the company's prospects benefitted from the support of the dictatorial Somoza family.

Commenting on the upcoming verdict, Laurie Kazan-Allen, co-editor and publisher of Eternit and The Great Asbestos Trial said:

“I am in no doubt about the culpability of this corporate Goliath for the asbestocide witnessed wherever its plants were operational. I feel confident that the Turin judges will hand down exemplary sentences recognizing the crimes committed in Casale Monferrato and elsewhere.”

February 10, 2012



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