ThyssenKrupp CEO for Italy convicted on deaths

20.04.2011

In an historic ruling on voluntary homicide, ThyssenKrupp's CEO for Italy was sentenced to 16 and a half years in prison on charges related to the deaths of seven workers in December 2007 at a steel plant in Turin, Italy.

ITALY: A court in Turin sentenced ThyssenKrupp's CEO for Italy, Harald Espenhahn, to 16 and a half years in prison on April 15 for the murder of seven workers that died in a fire at the transnational's steel factory in Turin on December 6, 2007.

Five other company officials were also convicted on manslaughter charges and sentenced to up to 13 and a half years in prison. The German company received a 1 million euros fine. In addition, the company will not be allowed to benefit from Italian state subsidies for six months. During the same period, ThyssenKrupp will also be banned from advertising its products in Italy.

At the time of the incident the company was gradually dissolving the factory, with only 200 of the former 400 employees remaining, and failed to maintain health and safety standards. The prosecution's investigation into the incident proved that the CEO was fully aware of the risks and decided not to take the minimum measures required by law at the plant.

The court's ruling, which can be challenged, is historic as it sets an important precedent in recognizing the CEO as responsible of voluntary homicide, a first in Italy for a workplace accident.

One worker died immediately in the horrific blaze at the plant in Turin, while the other six died later in hospital. The deaths prompted a nation-wide campaign for improved safety measures in the workplace.

According to press reports, the verdict in this case was welcomed by prosecutor Raffaele Guariniello who said it would "mean a lot for health and safety at the workplace."