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Casale Monferrato Council Signs ‘Pact with the Devil’ Over Asbestos Contamination

It’s a good thing the mayor and town council of Casale Monferrato, Italy, weren’t presiding over the Nuremberg Trials following World War II, as it’s now clear that these individuals care little about serving justice to the parties responsible for severe crimes.

Reports indicate the town council, led by Mayor Giorgio Demezzi, has decided to accept a deal referred to by many as a “pact with the devil.” The deal involves an 18 million euro settlement offer from former asbestos executive Stephen Schmidheiny, who is on trial for his role in the asbestos contamination caused by the Eternit factory.

According to Laurie Kazan-Allen, the Coordinator of International Ban Asbestos Secretariat (IBAS), the council’s decision to accept the settlement was made more than two weeks before Schmidheiny’s deadline of December 31. A verdict in the case was scheduled to be handed down on February 13, 2012.

Church authorities back asbestos victims

The news of the settlement, which will reportedly protect Schmidheiny from liability in this case and any future asbestos transgressions in the town, has hit asbestos victims and their families hard.

A number of groups, from trade unionists to church officials, have expressed their support for these victims and publicly denounced the decision by the town council allowing Schmidheiny to skirt the ramifications of the legal system.

Kazan-Allen noted a spokesperson for the social department of the Church Dioceses said church authorities had “asked the Lord to give those who govern the City of Casale the courage and the judgement to pursue the common good, which is never the sum total of individual good or balancing the books, but something greater and more noble.”

Politicians choose euros over justice

The speed with which the Casale Monferrato town council and mayor accepted the settlement, coupled with the fact that they reportedly refused to show victims a draft of the proposal, suggests these politicians were blinded by the substantial sum of money.

Such a move comes at the expense of asbestos victims, many of whom have died as a result of illnesses such as lung cancer, asbestosis or malignant mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer. Many others are still suffering from the diseases, with treatment options limited due to the fact that diagnoses often occur too late.

As Kazan-Allen puts it, Casale Monferrato has accepted Schmidheiny’s “blood money,” failing to see the “human tragedy” that has occurred right in front of their eyes.

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