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Casale Monferrato asbestos

“Eternit and The Great Asbestos Trial” Free Online Book Now Available

Eternit trial chief prosecutor Raffaele Guariniello with "Eternit and The Great Asbestos Trial" editor Laurie Kazan-Allen

The verdict to conclude the Eternit asbestos disaster trial in Italy has finally been handed down, with former company owner Stephan Schmidheiny and major shareholder Jean-Louis Marie Ghislain de Cartier de Marchienne each receiving 16-year prison sentences.

Coinciding with the announcement of the verdict in the groundbreaking asbestos case, “Eternit and The Great Asbestos Trial,” compiled and edited by David Allen and Laurie Kazan-Allen, has been released and is now available at WorldAsbestosReport.org.

Detailing the Eternit scandal from the beginning with in-depth coverage of the corporation’s activities in Casale Monferrato, the book offers a rare glimpse into one of the most devastating environmental disasters in recent memory.

Eternit, a manufacturer of fiber cement, built its factory in Casale Monferrato in 1906, but it wasn’t until decades later that it become widely known that thousands of workers and people in the area had been exposed to asbestos, leaving a vast number of victims. The effects of this disaster are still being felt today.

From the factories to the courtroom, Eternit’s rise and fall documented

As it has been proven for decades that exposure to asbestos can have serious consequences for individuals – including the development of lung cancer, asbestosis and malignant mesothelioma – Eternit ultimately declared bankruptcy in 1986. It would be another six years before asbestos use was banned in Italy.

In the book, David Allen and Laurie Kazan-Allen include a number of interviews offering unique perspectives on the Eternit trial. These conversations give insight into the various twists and turns throughout the trial, particularly the attempts by Schmidheiny to settle claims with various cities, including Casale Monferrato. Though it was reported weeks before the verdict that Casale’s mayor was considering a deal, the town ultimately decided against it, paving the way for the Swiss billionaire’s sentencing earlier this week.

Despite verdict, asbestos fight not nearly over

In addition to the Eternit trial in Italy, “Eternit and The Great Asbestos Trial” details the wide-ranging impact that the asbestos disaster had on victims in other countries, including France, the Netherlands and Brazil, among others.

The lasting impact on these number of countries serves as a poignant reminder to the rest of the world that as the use of asbestos continues – particularly in developing countries – the Eternit verdict is only one step in the process of eliminating diseases that the World Health Organization estimates kill approximately 107,000 people across the globe each year.

Related article:

Former Eternit Executive, Shareholder Sentenced to Prison in Groundbreaking Asbestos Trial

Eternit Seeks to Protect Itself, Shed Asbestos Exposure Blame

Eternit looks to shed asbestos blame in Italy An ongoing trial in Italy is the latest example of an asbestos company looking to skirt the legal system and absolve itself from blame at the expense of exposure victims.

In a recent blog post, Laurie Kazan-Allen, the Coordinator of International Ban Asbestos Secretariat (IBAS), noted that the “Great Asbestos Trial” involving asbestos conglomerate Eternit in Italy is beginning to show signs of corruption.

Specifically, Kazan-Allen wrote that lawyers for Stephan Schmidheiny, one of the two former Eternit executives being taken to court, have been engaging in secret negotiations with a number of municipalities that are directly involved in the case. With a three-judge panel expected to announce a verdict on February 13, the lawyers are seeking withdrawal of civic authorities from the case, which would undoubtedly have serious consequences for exposure victims.

Casale Monferrato offered millions by defendant’s lawyers

Casale Monferrato, the site of the recent international meeting dubbed “A World Without Asbestos” which sought to eliminate asbestos-related diseases around the world, is one town that has reportedly been offered a substantial amount of money from Schmidheiny’s attorneys.

According to Kazan-Allen, the town has been offered up to €20 million to settle the claim and withdraw “from this and any future trials (against Eternit) that it might be involved in.”

But Casale Monferrato is not alone, as the Mayor and town council of Cavagnolo agreed to a deal with the lawyers for €2 million for asbestos decontamination. As part of this “tombstone agreement,” the town said it would not bring any more legal action against the former Eternit executive even if more evidence was uncovered, Kazan-Allen explained.

Potential corruption taking focus away from victims

While the Mayor of Casale Monferrato has publicly stated the town would not consider an agreement similar to the one made in Cavagnolo, a source told Kazan-Allen that Casale’s town council is “refusing to show victims and unions the draft of the (proposed) agreement,” leading to more speculation that the municipality could ultimately give in.

Either way, the attention has been shifted away from the plight of the asbestos exposure victims in this case, many of whom are likely suffering from diseases such as lung cancer, asbestosis or malignant mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer.

Scientific evidence continues to substantiate the claims of these individuals, as the World Health Organization estimates approximately 107,000 people are killed each year around the world as a result of such asbestos illnesses.

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