After the historic guilty verdict in the Eternit case (decided by the Court of Turin in February 2012 in first instance and in June 2013 by the Court of Appeal), a new decision by a criminal court in Italy has addressed the issue of workplace illness alleged to have been caused by asbestos.

After a two-year long trial, involving 27 former executives of ILVA (the largest Italian steel producer company) charged with negligent manslaughter and environmental disaster, on 23 May 2014 the Criminal Court of Taranto (Apulia) sentenced the 27 former executives to imprisonment, finding the managers liable for having failed to take the necessary steps to protect their employees against asbestos-related risks and declaring that causal link between exposure to asbestos and the death of 28 workers had been established.

The managers were sentenced to between four and nine-and-a-half years of imprisonment. In particular, public sector managers Sergio Noce and Giovanbattista Spallanzani – who led ILVA, including before its privatization in 1995 – received the most severe sentences.  The Court did not rule on Emilio Riva, former owner of the steelworks, who had passed away on 30 April 2014.

The reasoning behind the decision is not available yet. Defendants' Counsel announced that the decision will be appealed.