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“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

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

A verdict in the groundbreaking trial over the Eternit asbestos disaster in Italy has been handed down, with a former executive and a shareholder each receiving 16-year prison sentences for their roles in the incident.

Swiss billionaire Stephan Schmidheiny, the former owner of the Eternit fiber cement company, and major shareholder Jean-Louis Marie Ghislain de Cartier de Marchienne were sentenced in absentia after they were found guilty of violating safety regulations and creating an environmental disaster.

Agence France-Presse (AFP) reports the disaster was responsible for more than 3,000 asbestos-related deaths. The families of these victims had waited anxiously for the trial for years.

“This trial will go down in history… but it will not bring my dad back,” Piero Ferraris, whose father died of lung cancer in 1988 after working in a local Eternit factory from 1946 to 1979, said following the verdict.

Sentence longer than usual due to continued fall-out

The crimes committed by Schmidheiny and de Cartier typically carry a maximum 12-year sentence, but prosecutors successfully argued that the effects of the asbestos disaster continue to affect victims in Italy, according to the news source.

The trial began in 2009 following a five-year investigation into the matter, and it represents the largest such case against a multinational company for its role in asbestos-related deaths. Eternit went bankrupt prior to asbestos being banned in Italy, AFP reports.

“I have never seen such a tragedy. It affects workers and inhabitants… it continues to cause deaths and will continue to do so for who knows how long,” prosecutor Raffaele Guariniello said during his closing speech in November.

Defense attorneys had argued the two men were not responsible for the asbestos disaster, according to Reuters.

Trial, verdict shed light on deadly effects of asbestos exposure

The Eternit trial was monitored carefully around the world by the asbestos community, particularly as the carcinogenic substance is still widely used in developing countries.

Exposure to asbestos, which was once prized for its resistance to fire and utility as an insulator has been known for decades to cause a number of serious illnesses, including lung cancer, asbestosis and malignant mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer.

The effects of these illnesses can be seen across the globe, as the World Health Organization estimates approximately 107,000 people succumb to these diseases each year.

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