Norman Atlantic: il punto della situazione a tre anni dalla tragedia

Today, December 28, 2017 falls on the third anniversary of the shipwreck and fire of the Norman Atlantic, and all those involved in the tragedy, can not but remember this date, and from our side we must briefly make a point of the situation about the status of trials and compensation.

  • The criminal trial is struggling to start, despite the probationary phase was closed in April 2017 and the report from the experts appointed by the Court of preliminary investigation of Bari has ascertained the actual existence of many malfunctions on the ship, failure to comply with the emergency procedures by crew and the very serious responsibilities of both Visemar (owner of the ship) and Anek (carrier). We know that the Public Prosecutors assigned to the Norman Atlantic case, in recent months have also dealt with some large and demanding proceedings on organized crime in Puglia, and we are therefore convinced that within the beginning of the new year it will finally be notified the request to trial to all the investigated subjects, starting the expected criminal trial phase, which will lead truth and justice to the victims. As already happened in all the trials on naval disasters that we have followed and continue to follow.
  • Negotiations: concerning on the compensation side, negotiations have reached a level of offers that has been considered by many passengers to be very far from the rightful expectations, even though many have been forced to accept these offers, due to economic difficulties in they were in, especially in Greece. We know that from the ascertaining of liability troughout the criminal case, we will avoid the compensation ceilings that so far have allowed the shipowners to keep the negotiations on a low level, and therefore the negotiations profile remains open to new possible results.
  • The civil trial: in December last year the civil lawsuit started, to avoid incurring the decadence that the European legislation introduced into our legal system, forcing passengers to act judicially within two years from a maritime accident that involved a compensation right, to avoid forfeiture. Defined by the newspapers a record process, the case of the Norman is the second major civil case in the maritime field in Italy: between our team “Justice for the Norman Atlantic” and the team formed by the Turinese Ambrosio & Commodo, Bona & Oliva and the Greeks Pavlakis-Moschos, two separate civil actions were started in 2017 at the Court of Bari, for a total request of almost ten million euro. The first hearing in our trial took place on 24.10.2017, and the judge Dr Simoni Raffaella has kept the file in reserve to decide on the many exceptions raised by the counterparts about the regularity of notifications, passive legitimacy and many other preliminary issues. Just a few days ago we received the order by the court which rejected all the insidious exceptions of Anek’s lawyers regarding the notifications and simply ordered the integration of the deeds with the facts acquired as a result of the probative phase from the criminal procedure (on the dynamic of incident and responsibility of the carrier) as well as about the specification of the damage divided for each position of the passengers and / or family members of the victims, then fixing the case for its continuation at the next hearing on June 26th 2018.

The first confrontation in court with the lawyers of Anek and Visemar, therefore, has definitely closed in favor of the victims and the civil case, pending the developments on the criminal procedures front, will be able to take place regularly in the next months in its preliminary phase. Continua a leggere

Annunci

Le indagini sul Rina, dal Jolly Nero approdano al Norman Atlantic

L’onda lunga del jolly Nero travolge il Rina, e la macchia si allarga fino a Bari ed al disastro Norman Atlantic
http://www.ilfattoquotidiano.it/2017/04/19/jolly-nero-il-rina-non-e-piu-intoccabile-due-dirigenti-ai-domiciliari-per-false-certificazioni-sulla-sicurezza-delle-navi/3531856/

Documento Newspaper on our client’s testimonies

An article from Documento newspaper in Greece, recently took into account our legal Team collegue Mr. Kriton Metaxopoulos and some of our client’s interview.

Numerous faults, omissions and violations of basic safety rules are detected in the report on the causes of the tragedy of the Norman Atlantic shipwreck from the experts appointed by the Italian Justice which is currently displayed in «Documento» newspaper. At the same time, people who experienced the events of December 28th 2014, talk to «Documento» newspaper and describe the dramatic moments they experienced in the Adriatic, where they literally faced death.

The appointed experts reported that the ship was overloaded with vehicles and especially refrigerator trucks. The results showed that the on board vehicles were more than the available sockets. In this context, many refrigerator trucks had their engines working while the ship was on board. Furthermore, the experts concluded that the fire caused by a vehicle engine/machine, a fact that may be related to the operation of the engines the on board refrigerator trucks. It is mentioned that the inadequacy of the available sockets on the ship compared with the number of refrigerator trucks became subject of the debate among captain Argillio Giaromazzi, ship-owner Argillio Giaromazzi and representative of ANEK, few hours before the fatal incident.  It is also noted that due to overload of the ship, the vehicles in parking lots were almost stuck with each other.

According to the appointed experts, the construction of the ship, the arrangement of its inner spaces and the time required for the activation of the ship’s fire-alarm system were the basic factors that the fire impossible to be extinguished on time.

Mr. Kriton Metaxopoulos, the lawyer who represents families of victims of the Norman Atlantic shipwreck along with Italian lawyers, mentioned in Documento newspaper the following: ‘’The facts resulted from questioning procedure until today and basically the experts’ findings confirm all the allegations and arguments of both families of the victims and tragedy survivors. In any case, according to my opinion, there is no doubt about the civil and criminal liability of the defendants’’.

Survivors’ Testimonies

  • Mr. Ioannis Vassalos (passenger): ‘’There was no plan and the crew was not on its duty positions.  The situation was out of control.’’
  • Mr. Olivier Coissard (French passenger): ‘’There were such high temperatures that our shoes melted and our bags got burnt.’’
  • Mr. Evangelos Tsoukis (passenger): ‘’Every one of us acted spontaneously. […] There was no coordinated action or any information by the crew…’’
  • Mr. Leonidas Konstantinidis (truck driver): ‘’We were trapped and fire was getting closer to us. The only option seemed to be the sea’’.

Incidente probatorio Norman Atlantic – i risultati della perizia

Nel procedimento penale Rg 20598/14 sul disastro marittimo del Norman Atlantic abbiamo finalmente raggiunto la fase conclusiva dell’indagine svolta dai periti nominati dal tribunale di Bari nell’ambito dell’incidente probatorio diretto dal Giudice delle Indagini Preliminari dott.ssa Alessandra Piliego. periti nominati dal tribunale di Bari nell’ambito dell’incidente probatorio diretto dal Giudice delle Indagini Preliminari dott.ssa Alessandra Piliego.

A partire dal 27 marzo 2017, ogni giorno e per una settimane di fila, si è tenuta udienza all’interno dell’aula bunker di Bitonto, onde consentire al collegio peritale di illustrare i risultati della loro indagine e – in una trattazione divisa per blocchi (caricamento e rizzaggio mezzi, incendio, vdr ed apparati di bordo, gestione emergenza, abbandono nave etc.) – i periti si sottoporranno all’esame delle parti per le varie osservazioni, integrazioni, contestazioni e domande di approfondimento.

Le udienze si sono aperte con le prime schermaglie sul tema dell’ordine di esame e controesame ai periti da parte dei vari difensori. La norma processuale (art. 401, V comma cpp) prevede infatti che le prove sono acquisite secondo le forme ed ordine di assunzione stabilite per il dibattimento, e dunque si deve iniziare l’esame con le proprie domande ai periti chi ha richiesto l’incidente probatorio (nella fattispecie i Pubblici Ministeri), seguendo con il controesame da parte degli avvocati difensori dei 18 soggetti indagati. A seguire i difensori delle parti offese (noi), che possono rivolgere domande ed osservazioni solo indirettamente ed attraverso il giudice, il quale, se le ritiene pertinenti, le formula ai periti (in quanto, durante questa fase processuale, le parti offese non sono ancora parti processuali vere e proprie, qualità che assumono solo nel momento in cui viene ammessa la loro costituzione di parte civile, dopo la richiesta di rinvio a giudizio), assieme alle domande di chiarimento che lei stessa riterrà opportuno svolgere in chiusura dell’esame. Ovviamente “parlare” per ultimi rappresenta un vantaggio processuale non indifferente, tanto che durante il dibattimento vero e proprio, l’avvocato difensore dell’imputato è in genere garantita sempre l’ultima “parola”. In questa circostanza tuttavia, nonostante la protesta dei difensori degli indagati di poter intervenire dopo la serie di domande degli avvocati di parte offesa, il GIP ha giustamente ritenuto di mantenere l’ordine previsto dal codice, anche se, con grande disponibilità verso tutti, ha consentito una occasionale inversione di questo ordine per esigenze di alcuni difensori di parte lesa, e comunque ha garantito la possibilità per tutti, PM e difensori degli indagati di tornare su alcuni eventuali punti toccati da domande delle parti civili.

Nella serie di udienze consecutive si è iniziato da una breve e sintetica presentazione, da parte dei periti, delle quasi 700 pagine della loro relazione e sulle loro conclusioni sull’incendio, sulle cause di probabile innesco, tempi di sviluppo e modalità di propagazione, per poi sottoporsi alle domande della Procura, partendo dalla fase di caricazione mezzi (ed è emersa, come vedremo, una certa pressione di Anek sull’equipaggio della NA per imbarcare un numero di camion frigo in modo eccessivo rispetto alla disponibilità di prese, e sempre senza preavviso), delle operazioni di rizzaggio (ovverosia di aggancio dei veicoli pesanti alle paratie a terra, per assicurare la stabilita del carico e bilanciamento nave, eseguite in modo approssimativo ed assolutamente inadeguato, ammassando i mezzi e, sopratutto gli autotreni, troppo vicini uno all’altro, continuando le operazioni di rizzaggio addirittura anche in navigazione, senza comunque portarle a termine), di collegamento dei camion frigo alle prese di corrente (poiché è stato chiarito come sia severamente vietato, durante la navigazione, alimentare il gruppo frigo dei veicoli da trasporto con vano di carico a temperatura controllata, attraverso i motorini diesel che, invece, mantengono autonomamente la refrigerazione durante la circolazione su strada dei mezzi, e quindi questi, una volta imbarcati, vanno disattivati e allacciati alla rete elettrica della nave), il numero delle prese e dei cavi disponibili a bordo (dando evidenza della presenza di più camion frigo rispetto alle prese e cavi di collegamento disponibili sulla nave, il che certamente da evidenza che alcuni autotreni -almeno 3 sul ponte 4- non erano stati collegati all’impianto elettrico della nave e quindi presumibilmente avevano il sistema di refrigerazione con motore a scoppio in funzione durante la navigazione) e molti altri elementi che dimostrano una spregiudicata approssimazione e generale violazione delle norme Solas e del codice SMS alla base della tragedia (parlano di insieme di “errori umani” e di “vistose e intrinseche debolezze” sotto il profilo ingegneristico come cause del disastro) sopratutto per quanto riguarda l’approntamento della nave e del suo carico al viaggio.

Cosa che, d’altronde, era ben nota visto che i nostri clienti lo avevano con molta chiarezza riferito e denunciato sin da subito: gli autotreni erano stati stipati nei ponti garage in modo tale che alcuni autisti erano stati costretti ad uscire dai finestrini non riuscendo ad aprire gli sportelli, non allineati ne agganciati alle “margherite” di fissaggio a terra per il rizzaggio, ed infatti i periti hanno riscontrato che la Safety Way (la via di passaggio per uscire, per eseguire i giri di ronda ed eventuali controlli oltre che come via di fuga) era parzialmente impegnata da alcuni mezzi e lasciava un angusto spazio di circa 40 cm per passare, rendendo oltretutto particolarmente difficoltoso il check sugli allarmi che sono poi scattati in plancia (sopratutto per un marinaio corpulento come Nardulli, che infatti non ha portato a termine la perlustrazione ma si è limitato a comunicare in plancia che il fumo rilevato dai sensori proveniva da un motore a scoppio in funzione), la dotazione e settaggio degli allarmi antincendio (e la loro funzione di rilievo calore/fumo che poteva essere attivata in modalità and/or), la dotazione, capacita e funzionamento degli impianti anti incendio passivi sulla nave (porte tagliafuoco, paratie A60) e di quelli attivi (sprinkler e drenching). Su questo punto, i periti hanno anche accertato che il sistema drencher, quello che si può attivare per zone di divisione della nave come sistema di estinzione massiva ad acqua sui ponti cargo, deve esser aperto manualmente ed in non più di due zone contemporaneamente (mentre nella fattispecie venne avviato, per negligenza, su almeno tre zone (diminuendo quindi la portata e capacita di estinzione dei getti) e su una zona errata (sul ponte 3 e non sul 4).

Secondo la perizia, l’origine dell’incendio si è invece originato proprio sul deck 4, e con ogni probabilità da un motorino a scoppio a servizio di uno dei camion frigo imbarcati, visto che, come spiegato in aula, questi compressori sono diesel raffreddati ad aria, e quando il veicolo è fermo tendono a surriscaldare molto rapidamente, con conseguente e concreto rischio di generare incendi. Di qui il rigoroso divieto di tenerli disattivati durante la navigazione e l’obbligo per tutti i mezzi con carico refrigerato, di allacciarsi alla rete elettrica della nave per garantire il controllo della temperatura sul vano di carico alimentare, o il normale funzionamento dei diversi motorini a servizio (es. per insufflare aria nel trasporto di pesce vivo).

Continua a leggere

Delayed of a week the start of hearings – differito di una settimana l’inizio udienze

The defense lawyers of some of the investigated have informed the Judge that they will join the strike proclaimed by the Union of Criminal Chambers and will refrain from hearings scheduled from the 20 to 24 March 2017. For this reason, the start of the hearings scheduled in the Norman Atlantic trial from March 20, 2017 has been postponed to the following week.


Gli avvocati difensori di alcuni tra gli indagati hanno comunicato al GIP che aderiranno allo sciopero dei penalisti proclamato dalla Unione Camere Penali e si asterranno dalle udienze nei giorni dal 20 al 24 marzo 2017. Per questo motivo l’inizio delle udienze nell’incidente probatorio sul Norman Atlantic previste dal 20 marzo 2017 è stato differito di una settimana.

Depositata la relazione dei periti -Expert’s report is being filed

IMG_7220NORMAN ATLANTIC criminal trial: after a long wait, it has being finally filed the report, drafted from the experts appointed by the GIP almost a year ago; it is a monumental mass of data, which we will have in our hands shortly.

Given the complexity of the investigations conducted on assignment from Bari Criminal Court, the monumental mass of electronic data annexed to the report and the heterogeneity of the various issues that were addressed into consideration from the college of experts, it was agreed to establish a few number of hearings to present the results.

The hearings will be held – March 20 and 31, and from April the 3rd to the 8th of April – in the Bunker Courtroom of Bitonto, considering the need for adequate space because of the large number of parties allegedly involved in the Trial.

As known, in the meantime we launched a 24 million euro civil action in the Court of Bari, and we are fully confident that the results of the criminal investigations will be decisive to ensure the gross negligence of Anek and Visemar in the Norman Atlantic maritime disaster, canceling the indemnity limits for passengers and victims imposed by the Athens Convention of 1974, and push this trial towards the recognition of punitive damages to be borne by the two shipping companies.


Processo penale NORMAN ATLANTIC: dopo una lunga attesa è stata finalmente depositata la perizia redatta dagli esperti nominati dal GIP quasi un anno fa; si tratta di una imponente massa di dati, che avremo a nostra disposizione a breve.

Vista la complessità delle indagini svolte su incarico del Tribunale penale di Bari, della monumentale massa di dati informatici allegati alla relazione e la eterogeneità dei vari aspetti presi in considerazione dal collegio dei periti, si è deciso di fissare un certo numero di udienze per illustrare i risultati.

Le udienze si terranno il 20 ed il 31 marzo e dal 3 all’8 aprile nell’aula Bunker di Bitonto, considerando la necessità di uno spazio adeguato per via dell’alto numero di parti presumibilmente interessate al processo.

Come noto, abbiamo nel frattempo avviato la azione civile da 24 milioni di euro presso il Tribunale di Bari, e siamo del tutto convinti che i risultati delle indagini penali saranno risolutivi per accertare la colpa grave di Anek e Visemar nel disastro marittimo del Norman Atlantic, annullando i massimali risarcitori per i passeggeri e le vittime imposti dalla Convenzione di Atene del 1974, e spingere questo processo verso il riconoscimento dei danni punitivi a carico delle due compagnie di navigazione.

Two years from the Norman Atlantic tragedy – Due anni dalla tragedia Norman Atlantic

norman-atlantic-in-fiammeExactly two years ago, on December the 28th 2014, the NORMAN ATLANTIC ferry, property of the Italian shipowner VISEMAR and rented by the Greek company ANEK LINES, departed from Greece and directed to Ancona, caught fire in the middle of the night off the Albanian coast, and in short time went drifting off the Adriatic sea, in a storm of six meters waves and force 8 wind, with almost 500 people on board and overrun with cars, trucks and Tir carrying goods from Greece to Italy, especially olive oil, which would then fuel the flames for days. The origins of the fire are still under investigation, via a procedure of recording evidence that, as required by the Public Prosecutor of Bari, will have to verify not only the evolution of the shipping incident, but also, and above all, the possible Crew responsibilities in emergency management on board, and the companies ones for malfunctions, as it seemed clear from the start, that the latter turned the fire – started from the deck 4 of the ship, in a real holocaust for dozens of people, 10 dead and over 19 missing, imprisoning the rest of the survivors on the top and outside deck of the ship, drifting inexorably and internally devoured by flames, and to be recovered only by helicopter and transferred one by one. A difficult rescue operation because of adverse weather and sea conditions, and that, despite having involved over 20 merchant and naval ships of different nationalities and several rescue helicopters, lasted for more than two days – an infinite time for those caught between the grip of toxic smokes, flames, incandescent floors and the icy cold of the water jets – sprayed continuously by emergency ships. The very few who managed to take their seats on lifeboats or reach the floating boat dropped overboard, lived an experience of terror and horror, even worse than those who remained trapped on the burning ferry.

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. Some bodies of drowned victims were found after days, torn apart by evident shark bites. Nearly twenty people are missing, but the count of those missing is certainly more serious, considering the presence on board of many illegal immigrants.

In the tragedy – however – there were also scenes of altruism and heroism, as in the case of the Orthodox priest who generously helped many shipwrecked persons to climb the dangerous rope ladder thrown by the rescue ship to the lifeboat on which they stood, leaving the way to all families before falling into the sea and get lost forever; or the greek doctor, who still works in Italy, which remained on board the ferry up until the end, providing his assistance to fellow sufferers, or like some truck drivers who, at great personal risk, managed to hook the towing tugs cable to the Norman Atlantic.

A horror lived in long and intense measure, in extreme psychophysical and weather conditions, which left indelible marks inside all people escaped from death, diagnosed in terms of “post-traumatic stress disorder“, studied for the first time in World War I and Vietnam veterans, and then ascertained as a psychological pathology, typical of disaster survivors, as in the case of the collapse of the twin towers.

After two years we are still waiting for the closing stage of the preliminary investigation by the magistracy and experts appointed by the Criminal Court of Bari. A report that will hopefully shed some light on the many shadows that since the beginning we have emphasized, with regard to ship-owners, the carrier, crew, those who certified the ship but also – and above all – in the maritime great transportation system, where the law of profit – too often – seems to prevail over the safety rules and accident prevention.

Avv. Massimiliano Gabrielli a bordo del norman atlanticOur 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. Since the early days we were involved because of our experience in maritime disasters such as the sinking of the “Concordia” and “Jolly Nero“, and directly in the forefront we have provided (in person) assistance for immediate needs and to return home several families, support in the investigations on the DNA for the possible identification of missing persons, aid for the recover of the vehicles following the withdrawal of the vessel seizure (a year and a half after the accident), and then starting – on one hand – filing about 50 complaints and an intense work of investigations in the criminal proceedings – through our consultants and accessing the ship, and – on the other side – opening the negotiations with Anek & Visemar lawyers, in order to achieve a fair and honorable compensation in favor of our clients. Continua a leggere