Italian court sentences Swiss businessman in asbestos case

This content was published on April 6, 2022 - 19:36

Several courts in Italy have dealt with cases against Schmidheiny over the past 20 years. The archive photo from 2015 shows relatives of victims with Italian flags calling for justice in the asbestos case. Keystone/Alessandro Di Marco

A court in Italy has sentenced Swiss businessman Stephan Schmidheiny to 42 months in prison over the death of a former worker at an asbestos company.

The jury found Schmidheiny, a former majority shareholder in the company, guilty of involuntary manslaughter, according to the Italian ANSA news agency.

The factory worker had been exposed to asbestos, the jury found.

However, Schmidheiny was acquitted in seven other cases involving a company near Naples on Wednesday.

Schmidheiny’s lawyers told the Swiss Keystone-SDA news agency that they would appeal against the verdict, saying the ruling went against Italian law and basic legal principles.
Series of cases

The verdict is the latest in series of court cases in Italy against 74-year-old Schmidheiny who has denied any responsibility.

So far, he has always been cleared by higher courts.

In a high-profile case in 2014, Italy’s Supreme Court acquitted Schmidheiny of any responsibility for the deaths of almost 3,000 people. The judges ruled that the statute of limitations had passed in 1998.

The verdict had prompted an outcry from trade unions, environmental organisations and relatives of the victims.