Yesterday morning, in Bari Courthouse, the second hearing was held in the civil case brought by our legal team against ANEK AE and Visemar di Navigazione, following the filing of the supplementary memorandum ordered by the judge to specify in detail the damage items and factual elements for each passenger.
Once again the counterpart lawyers have raised numerous and insidious ritual and procedural exceptions, concerning the forfeiture – statute of limitations of the compensation action and rights recalling the Athens convention and the reg.CE 392/2009, in the attempt to guarantee a maximum limit to all compensation for passengers, as established by the European Community standard, while we immediatly replied on the lateness of these procedural exceptions, on the inapplicability of the CE limits to compensation in the presence (as in our case) of criminal offenses and serious fault / willful misconduct by the carrier (or its employees), requiring finally the judge to authorize the extension of the civil case also against another company of the visemar group (Visemar Trasporti Srl) as owner of the ship and responsible – economically jointly with the other two, for all compensation, in order to have a more adequate guarantee of solvency, taking into account the high request for compensation also for punitive damages that we proposed.
The judge decided to limit the topic of the discussion only on this last point, considered preliminary to others, and kept the case file in reserve in order to decide whether to authorize the call of Visemar Transport or not;in such eventuality the Court will set a deadline for notifying the deeds to this additional company, establishing a new hearing, or will set directly to the next hearing assigning to the parties an interlocutory term for the filing of replies on the further exceptions, as well as for the articulation of the investigations, filing of documents and certifications.
In the meantime the burned ship has been moved from the cruise dock to the entrance dock of the port of Bari, constituting a gloomy entry/exit ticket for all ships – but hopefully also a severe warning about accident prevention, where it will remain – always under seizure – pending the start of the criminal trial that may require further technical examination of the experts.
This last aspect, unfortunately, has undergone a further slowdown as the criminal court of Bari has recently been declared unfit and part of the hearing and the Public Prosecutor’s activities have moved temporarily under big “camping tents“, in conditions of extreme discomfort, and a recent government’s decree stopped all hearing until the end of the summer; however, we are confident that – after the conclusion of the preliminary investigations – the request for indictment for all the investigated is not far away, and this will certainly represent a decisive turning point for the rights and expectations of passengers and victims.