Govt vows to change time-out rules amid Eternit fury

Conviction over asbestos disaster timed out

(ANSA) - Rome, November 20 - Premier Matteo Renzi on Thursday pledged to change Italy's statute of limitations amid widespread anger and dismay after a conviction for an asbestos environmental disaster that claimed thousands of lives was ruled to have timed out by the supreme court on Wednesday. The supreme Court of Cassation overturned an 18-year prison sentence against Swiss tycoon Stephan Schmidheiny, the former owner of two asbestos cement plants which the now-defunct Eternit ran in Italy. Inadequate safety measures at the Eternit plants were found to be responsible for more than 2,000 deaths at the first-instance and appeal-level trials. "If a case like Eternit is a timed-out crime, then we have to change the rules of the game on the statute of limitations," Renzi told the RTL radio station. "We can't have the nightmare of the statute of limitations (in these cases). You cannot deprive people of the demand for justice.
    "I was struck, as an ordinary citizen, by the interviews with the families (of the victims). They made me shudder a little".