Bye bye Norman Atlantic, and goodbye also to the crime scene and possible expertise supplements in the running criminal trial; the judge of preliminary investigations, in fact, after 4 and a half years of seizure, allowed the release (a week before the trial started) from seizure of the ro/pax ferry that caught fire the night between 27 and 28 December 2014; the last journey of the Norman Atlantic, who left the port of Bari with the help of the tugboat “Ionion Pelagos”, flying the flag of the Comoros Islands, sailing from quay n. 30 where it was moored, will take the ship, in navigation on a trailer transfer, to the Turkish port of Aliaga, destined for demolition in a local shipyard. A journey lasting about 6 days.
Bye bye Norman Atlantic, e arrivederci anche alla scena del crimine e possibili supplementi di perizia nel processo penale in corso; il giudice delle indagini preliminari, infatti, dopo 4 anni e mezzo di sequestro, ha consentito (una settimana prima dell’inizio del processo) il dissequestro del traghetto ro/pax che prese fuoco la notte tra il 27 e il 28 dicembre 2014; l’ultimo viaggio della Norman Atlantic, che ha abbandonato il porto di Bari con l’ausilio del rimorchiatore “Ionion Pelagos”, battente bandiera delle Isole Comore, salpando dalla banchina n. 30 dove era ormeggiata, porterà la nave, in navigazione di trasferimento a rimorchio, verso il porto turco di Aliaga, destinata alla demolizione in un cantiere nautico del posto. Un viaggio della durata di circa 6 giorni.
Clients, on Tuesday May 21 2019 the second preliminary hearing of the criminal
trial on the Norman Atlantic disaster was held in the Bitonto bunker hearingroom.
start by saying that ALL our clients were admitted as a civil party, and
that this important result was by no means obvious or automatic or simple to
fact, in the time from the previous hearing, in which we filed our request for
the appearance in court, and this last hearing, the judge had assigned to the
defendants an intermediate term for the filing of written memoirs with which to
illustrate their exceptions and objections to the request to enter the process
by passengers and family members, but also organizations and associations.
Well, we can say that surely the lawyers (of Anek above all), have not been
spared at all (and it must be said that they could also have done it with
greater esteem and respect for the victims, as for example Costa Crociere did
in the process on the sinking of the Concordia, which raised formal exceptions
only against the cities and associations but not also about the constitution of
a civil part of the passengers), but on the contrary they have once again (as
in the civil trial) put into play every possible and imaginable procedural
question, constraint of national and community legislation and of captious
exception to try to prevent at any cost the request of the victims to
participate in the criminal trial as parties in all aspects, and not only as
spectators. Constituting as a civil party, in fact, allows the injured party from
a committed crime, in addition to making a request to the judge for compensation
on their damage suffered in relation to such conduct, but also play an
important role as a private prosecution alongside the public one, exercised by
the public prosecutor’s office, in the common search for truth and justice
through the conviction of all those responsible for the disaster. Needless to
say, the army of defendants’ lawyers would have preferred to have the trial
without our unfriendly presence in the courtroom, and already the first heated
controversy took place in the courtroom among lawyers, in a clearly nervousness
due to the gravity of the charges, on one side, and the delicacy of the
positions and the compensatory values requested on behalf of the clients, on
their memoirs and subsequent discussion in the hearing room, the defenders of
the Greek shipowner, but not only them, tried to enforce the rules of Reg. (EC)
392/2009 in the criminal trial which, as you now by know, provides (art 16,
point 3 of the Athens Convention) a two-year preclusional term, which led us
prudently to initiate a civil lawsuit in Bari in December 2016, thus claiming,
in a very insidious way, that today it would not be possible for us to validly
transfer the compensation action from the civil to the criminal trial, due to
some alleged forfeiture and other (alleged) defects matured during the civil
trial. Nevertheless the defendants’ defenses claimed that the nature and
legitimacy of the requests was not adequately demonstrated and documented.
On May 6, 2019, the first preliminary hearing of the Norman Atlantic criminal case was held in the Bitonto bunker room near Bari. The large number of trial parties (public prosecutors and consultants, lawyers for the many defendants, civil lawyers and members of the harbor master’s office, ministries officies and security, as well as journalists and press) made it necessary to move the hearing to a separate branch of the Bari courthouse, which therefore on each day provided for in the calendar set by the judge, will be opened and dedicated specifically to the needs of our process. The only defendant present in the courtroom was Carlo Visentini, owner of the Norman Atlantic’s company, while no member of the crew or the Greek company decided to attend the first court hearing, despite the regularity of the notifications, and therefore the criminal trial against them will continue without any delay, in absentia.
Even among the victims no one was present, but this is obviously due to the fact that for the most part they are people living far from Bari, mainly Greece and Albania, but also because of the fact that these are the first bars of the preliminary hearing , characterized by formal procedural activity and of little substantial interest for the people who were on board the ship. Furthermore – as we expected – the families of the victims and the passengers who filed to be a civil part in the criminal trial are very few compared to the number of passengers and injured parties, but this is mainly due to the fact that most victims have concluded transactions or have acted and continue to claim damages in front of the civil court.
Our pool of lawyers, on May 6th, has instead formalized at the beginning of the hearing the request for the establishment of a civil party claim in the criminal trial, for all our clients, in this way transferring the entire claim for damages – pursuant to art. 75 Italian Criminal Procedure Code – from the civil court office directly in the criminal trial, having already filed, as you know, a previous case within two years from the claim, in favor of all our clients and in a civil court, to avoid the possible two-year forfeiture of the right to compensation, envisaged by EC regulation 392/2009; when – on the next criminal hearing (set for May 21, 2019) – the civil action claim will be accepted and declared by the judge, this will automatically lead to the interruption of the previous civil proceeding, ritually registered to the role and pending at the Civil Court of Bari RG 20070/2016 – dott. Ruffino Antonio, next hearing scheduled for 11.28.2019.Continua a leggere →
Come avevamo anticipato a fine dicembre, è stata finalmente firmata la richiesta di rinvio a giudizio e fissata la prima serie di udienze preliminari nell’aula bunker di Bitonto: si parte dal 06 maggio 2019 ed è stato fissato un primo calendario di udienze; assieme al decreto di fissazione udienza GUP è stato notificata anche la richiesta di rinvio a giudizio da parte della procura di Bari, e le novità, rispetto alla prima formulazione dei capi di imputazione all’epoca delle indagini preliminari e dell’incidente probatorio, sono decisamente molte, oltre che nell’elenco di soggetti imputati, notevolmente aumentato comprendendo oggi nei 32 soggetti una buona parte dell’equipaggio, anche nei capi di imputazione, che alla luce dei risultati della perizia e degli accertamenti tecnico-scientifici, è stato ampiato e dettagliato in modo estremamente rigoroso e giuridicamente articolato.
As we anticipated at the end of December, the request for indictment was finally signed by the P.P.’s and the first series of preliminary hearings is being set up in Bitonto bunkering room: starting from May 6th, a first calendar of hearings is already set; together with the decree of the GUP hearing, the request for prosecution by the Bari PP’s office was also notified, and the news, compared to the first formulation of the indictments at the time of the preliminary investigations and the probationary incident, are decidedly many, and beyond that in the list of subjects accused, greatly increased comprising today in the 32 subjects a good part of the crew, but also in the counts of imputation, that in light of the results of the appraisal and the technical-scientific investigations, it is detailed in an extremely rigorous and juridically articulated manner.
At exactly 4 years from the fire and shipwreck of the Norman Atlantic, here it comes the official news that the Prosecutor’s office of Bari has finally requested the indictment for the 32 suspects (30 individuals and two companies) accused of the disaster occurred off the Albanian coast in the night between 27 and 28 December 2014, which caused 31 victims, including 12 confirmed deaths and 19 bodies never found, and the serious injury of 64 of the approximately 500 passengers, all remained on board in stormy sea for two days and beyond, and that even today they have not overcome the trauma of that terrible experience.
No fire alarm was issued, no warning from the crew, and the passengers awoke at night between coulters of smoke and panic scenes. A panic which released – in many – the worst in human race. The first to abandon ship were some of the crew, dropping quickly the only usable lifeboat, with just a third of its precious capacity of persons. During the retrieve of the passengers using the baskets lowered from helicopters, others have literally attacked the rescuers, with bites and punches, just to be saved first, others refused to leave priority to women and children. Some people threw himself into the water to escape the flames, and was quickly swallowed by the waves of the icy December sea.
The news of the signing of the request for judgment had been circulating for some weeks now, but reaching the 4th anniversary, it comes an official confirmation that the prosecutors have requested the criminal trial for the legal representative of Visemar, the company that owns the ferry, Carlo Visentini, the two legal representatives of the Greek Anek Lines, charterer of the ship, the commander Argilio Giacomazzi and 26 members of the crew. After confirming the serious responsibilities and negligence that emerged in the probationary phase, the suspects are accused, for various reasons, of crimes of negligent cooperation in shipwreck, culpable homicide and multiple culpable injuries in addition to numerous violations on safety and the navigation code.
The date of the first hearing with the judge of the preliminary hearing has not yet been set, but we already know that – in order to overcome the logistical difficulties of the court of Bari – the Bitonto bunker room was again made available, in which we will stand for this part of the criminal trial.
Our team “Giustizia per Norman Atlantic” has represented so far about fifty people whose lives were devastated in various ways in the shipping incident, as passengers or as family members of victims or missing, and for many of those we lauched the multi-milion civil case running in Bari, that lately moved a further step in extending the compensation responsabilities to another company of Visemar Group.
For many others, forced by the long waiting and personal difficulties, we were asked to negotiate and close their case with a transaction, but now with the criminal trial pending we are confident that justice will soon be brought to all, even for those that couldn’t wait for a judicial and more fair compensation. New clients have recently joined, to overcome the lack of results they faced in other countries and different strategies.
But for all passengers, more and beyond an economic compensation, the first right to justice is that those who have made so many mistakes will pay with years in prison and companies will be punished with heavy punitive damages, so that this tragedy will prevent the recurrence of disasters in the world of navigation by ferries
The 2019 will now be the year of the Norman Atlantic trial, and we will ensure to make it as productive and effective as possible.
Following the last hearing in the NORMAN ATLANTIC’s civil case running in the court of Bari, the judge had kept the file in reserve on the many exceptions raised by the counterpart lawyers to support the ineffectiveness and illegitimacy of the notifications and of the whole trial action; on the contrary, by order of the judge dott.ssa SIMONE RAFFAELLA, the Court has instead decided to proceed further in the case and has accepted our request to extend the claim for 26 million euro against VISEMAR COSTRUZIONI, owner of the “naked” hull of the Norman Atlantic ship, then leased to Visemar Navigazione and in turn from this rented to the Greek company ANEK AE. Following the summons for the third party’s call in the trial, the first company will then be jointly held with the others to pay all damages to passengers.
The next hearing of the trial is scheduled for 03/28/2019 09:30 AM FOR THE CALL OF THE THIRD COMPANY.
In the meantime, the criminal trial – passed the phase of the probative incident that has verified the presence of serious responsibilities and malfunctions as with the expert report ordered by the preliminary investigation judge – is undergoing a decisive delay in the start of the trial phase due to structural problems in the court of justice building of Bari; in fact, starting from the end of July, is being declared the stop of all criminal cases with not a few organizational problems for the Public Prosecutor’s Office, which is now without a proper building to celebrate the trials.
We will keep you up-to-date on upcoming developments in civil hearings and criminal cases.
LUCE VERDE PER IL PROCESSO CIVILE A BARI
A seguito della ultima udienza nella causa civile sul naufragio della NORMAN ATLANTIC presso il tribunale di Bari, il giudice aveva trattenuto il fascicolo in riserva sulle molte eccezioni sollevate dai legali di controparte per sostenere la nullità delle notifiche e della azione processuale; al contrario con ordinanza del giudice dott.ssa SIMONE RAFFAELLA, il Tribunale ha invece disposto procedersi oltre nel processo ed ha accolto la ns richiesta di estendere la domanda risarcitoria per 26 milioni di euro circa nei confronti della VISEMAR COSTRUZIONI, proprietaria dello scafo “nudo” della m/n Norman Atlantic, poi concessa in locazione a Visemar Navigazione e a sua volta da questa noleggiata alla compagnia greca ANEK AE. A seguito della citazione per la chiamata del terzo nel processo, anche la prima società sarà quindi tenuta in solido con le altre al risarcimento dei danni a favore dei passeggeri.
La prossima udienza per la prosecuzione del giudizio è fissata al 28/03/2019 09:30 PER CHIAMATA DEL TERZO.
Nel frattempo il giudizio penale – superata la fase dell’incidente probatorio che ha accertato la presenza di gravi responsabilità e malfunzionamenti con la perizia disposta dal giudice delle indagini preliminari – sta subendo un deciso ritardo nell’avvio della fase dibattimentale a causa dei problemi strutturali nel palazzo di giustizia di Bari; di fatto a partire da fine luglioo’è stato lo stop di tutte le cause penali e non pochi problemi organizzativi per la Procura, che si ritrova senza aule per celebrare i processi.
Vi terremo aggiornati a breve sui prossimi sviluppi delle udienze civili e della causa penale.
In the night between August the 28th and the 29th 2018 the ship Eleftherios Venizelos, another ferry from Anek Lines, during its travel from Piraeus to Crete with 875 passengers and 141 crew on board, was hit by a serious fire in the garage area, so much that the Captain was forced to declare general emergency and abandonment of the ship.
The emergency operations were not easy and implied the intervent of two firefighting tug boats, ten tenders, 48 firefighters and two emergency teams, as the fire was very quickly expanding from the lower decks and heavy black smoke was inclosing the ship.
The dynamic of the new accident is similar to the disaster of the Norman Atlantic, which as this one, was operating under the flag of the Greek company ANEK: a vehicle parked on board caught fire so that from 12am the board started to send emergency signals to get help from the Coast Guard.
After we assisted dozens of passengers who suffered a devastating experience onboard of the Anek’s ferry Norman Atlantic in the nights of the 28/29 December 2014 where so many lost their life, an all others suffered for their personal safety and for the losses of their personal belongings and for which we already submitted to the Civil Court of Bari our law suit against Anek and Visemar (see our web page on such case: https://giustiziapernormanatlantic.wordpress.com/), we face another case with a fire that broke out in the car deck of a ferry.
The emergency operations on the Eleftherios Venizelos went on during all night and the ship was at the end escorted back into Piraeus and all the passengers were disambarked only during the morning of the 29 August.
Media sources report that the ship has had many problems operating so much that since 2014 it has a discontinuous use, with some short-term rentals (including one to the Greek government for the transportation of migrants from the islands) and sporadic income in service as a replace of other ships Anek stopped for repairs. This raises questions in relation to safety of the ship. These questions will be adressed by with a specific complaint we will file to authorities that have already opened an investigation to find out the causes of the fire and the reasons for the lack of containment of the flames in the garage by the drenching system, providing all the trial expert’s reports on Norman Atlantic about critical issues on fires in Ro/Ro ship’s garage open decks.Continua a leggere →